Spiritual Growth

it’s all about finding center and rhythm – really!

In the winter of 2016, through a TD Jakes series of messages the Lord gave Robert and I our mission statement and told us that we needed to be fully practical AND fully spiritual.  Here is our mission statement:

To live a long, healthy and prosperous life.

To have intimacy with God and grow daily in wisdom.

To accomplish through Christ, the appointed purposes and dreams God has planned to fulfill through us.

To live an uncomplicated, uncluttered life at God’s pace, in God’s will, fully trusting in His timing.

This is our heart’s desire!  And this mission statement addresses us body, soul and spirit!  It is both fully practical and fully spiritual.

Now, living out this mission statement is where the rubber meets the road.  As you may or may not know, I am prone to anxiety.  The rise of anxiety informs me of whether I am living in balance – fully practical and fully spiritual. So, the question, the area I’m working on is how to stay balanced and in rhythm with God.  That’s really the key isn’t it?  How to find my “center” and live out from that “center”. It starts with knowing that you must live from a “center” and then determining what/where/who is with you in that “center”.  For me, it’s me and God (really the entire trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Without center rhythm can not flow.  Think about that – wherever rhythm is needed it must flow from a center..musicians know this, singers know this, drummers know this, dancers know this, all athletes know this…if you’ve every experienced a “sweet” moment on any level it was rhythm.  My head gets it.  My heart gets it.  But really, how to STAY there and live FROM there…..consistently.  Let me reiterate CONSISTENTLY!!

As I reflect and talk with the Lord about this, He reminded me of these three things that address body, soul and spirit.

  1. PHYSICAL Of all the swim practices and open water practices I did in 8 years as a triathlete, there is one swim that I remember most of all.  It was a “breakthrough” swim. During this swim, my body was beautifully balanced in the water, my breathing and stroke were in a rich and perfectly timed rhythm. Because of this balance (I was centered) and rhythm I was able to swim at a pretty fast pace for quite a long time (over 90 minutes if I remember right). It took me years of swimming to get this breakthrough..but, once I had it..I could duplicate it.  And from this swim on…my swimming kept improving to a place of speed and endurance that I hadn’t ever thought I’d acquire.
  2. MENTAL – Stephen Covey in his incredible book called 7 habits of highly effective people puts our daily life into 4 quadrants.  The most powerful quadrant to spend your time in is 2 – which is the non-urgent but very important  (planning, reflecting, assessing and then adjusting accordingly). This is hard to do because we often spend our time in quadrant 3 which is urgent and unimportant (think daily tasks). But the Q2 time drives all the other time in the right direction.  Otherwise, we are ebb and flow instead of making forward progress.
  3. SPIRITUAL – As believers in Jesus we know He is present with us all the time and we’ve been given the power and brilliance of the Holy Spirit.  God calls us into deep and intimate relationship with him.  However, we often don’t spend time with Him getting to know Him.  Or we spend our time learning about Him instead of getting to know Him, personally.  – two very different things.

What do all three of these have in common?  An investment of TIME, focus, learning, reflecting and doing and then waiting for it to all “click”.   #3 drives #1 and #2 right?  God created me, God has plans for me, God has put dreams and desires in my heart that He wants to see fulfilled.  So, I start at #3 – that’s the “center” that precedes everything else.  And when I start in the place I get everything I need for #2 and #1.  How do I know this?  Well, the Word….read on…

Here is my paraphrase of 2 Peter 1: 2-3 (you can find the actual scripture here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Peter+1%3A+2-3&version=NET

Because God is glorious and excellent, He called me to become His child through faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

And because I answered His call with YES, God has BESTOWED on me EVERYTHING NECESSARY that I will ever need for LIFE (fully practical) and GODLINESS (fully spiritual).

Therefore AS (this is a process) I grow in the rich knowledge (rich=intimacy, knowledge= know His ways) of God and Jesus, God will CONTINUALLY LAVISH upon me His GRACE and PEACE.

So….

to live physically, mentally and spiritually (body, soul and spirit) from a center that flows out into a rhythm of life, it STARTS by finding CENTER.  Center is the relationship with God.  Talking with Him and being with Him so He can tell you who you are and what He created you to do on this earth during this lifetime.  From this center and the relationship a rhythm develops – slowly, over time, with consistent dedication to KNOWING HIM not merely knowing about Him.  And out of this rhythm with Him, you will flow in every area of your life. This is the equivalent of many, many swim practices with only minor outward signs of a great swimmer being developed!  This is the Ultimate quadrant 2 and from this intimacy and time with God all the other aspects of life that we need direction for, encouragement for and wisdom for will flow.  We start with God.  Period. He will reveal and tell us everything we need to know.  He will saturate us with His strength and He will fill us with His Peace, Joy, Love and Power.  From this…center we will find the rhythm of our life. Anything else is merely “poor form” resulting in imbalance and having to try much harder than we need to if we’d just worked on center and rhythm first.

I’m learning that when life pulls, pushes and shoves me…STOP…return to center with God, get some love, get some encouragement, get redirected, get peace, get perspective, get security and safety…get EVERYTHING I need for life and godliness….then move forward in rhythm with Him into all that life is bringing me.

52 weeks off the map, Encouragement, Pilates, Spiritual Growth

Off the Map #6

Well, I think we are in week 20 or so out of 52.

Pilates – School is amazing.   I started Pilates about 10 years ago and up until my first teacher training program in 2015, most of my Pilates was at home, on a mat watching classes on Pilates Anytime.  Then, in my first program, I was taught exercises at level 1 and 2. I had a reformer with a tower as my only equipment  at the time which meant I could do reformer, mat and some cadillac exercises.  Philosophically, in my first school I was taught to pick the exercises that the body in front of me needed to move better – strengthen the weak, open the tight, etc.  This make perfect sense except it dismissed the whole “system” of Pilates!  Which, I now know is HUGE.

Today, I have ALL the Pilates equipment and I’m learning the SYSTEM of Pilates. Each exercise on mat and reformer is in a series and the first prepares for the second and the second for the third and so on.  The point of the series is: each exercise is a full body exercise when you complete the series, you’ve done a combination of somewhere between 10-40 exercises that have worked your body in every direction to create a uniformly developed body.  In addition, the cadillac, chair, and other equipment exercises were created as places to take a client to uniquely help them with what they need help with to do the mat and reformer work to their fullest potential.  The entire point of Pilates is to create a uniformly developed body, to facilitate breathing to detoxify the body and to build a supple and strong body capable of doing whatever you want to request of it. BIG DIFFERENCE between the first school and the second school is the SYSTEM. The 2nd difference is how HARD this new way makes you work – wow.  Very challenging but that is what brings the change in the body and RESULTS!!

Results – I’ve had greater results in my body in the past 6 months than I’ve had in the past 6 years. Oh, I got my body out of a BAD way with a bad back…but now, I’m beginning to feel like the athlete I was pre-accident that hurt my back.  My clients are  greatly challenge by this new way of doing Pilates and I can see their results coming faster and they are getting much, much stronger now.  I can also see that they are getting a greater level of satisfaction and enjoyment as well. It was a bold move but the right move.  The other day, I realized that if I spent all this time and money on Pilates just for me and Robert – it would be worth it.  That’s how much I believe Pilates can help us have a better life by having a better body!

Zig Ziglar – We just finished the 15th cd in the Born to Win program.  All I can say is WOW.  Absolutely powerful stuff.  Life changing for sure.  He is Biblically based, morally sound and so encouraging and motivating. His goal setting system is superb and we are just implementing it. Robert and I have experienced improvements in our self-image, positive outlook and ability to see the future and set goals and drive towards them.  We finished the Graham Cooke 16 part Developing your Destiny which married perfectly with Born to win.  These 2 series have set a foundation for realizing our identity, seeing our destiny and will help us to fulfill our future.  Now, we are about to start the 7 habits of highly effective people….It is NEVER too late to adjust course!!  You just need to WANT to adjust course strongly enough to apply the principles and change your perspective and attitude.  And the fact that Zig, Graham and Covey (author of 7 habits) all line up with the Bible and God’s way of living – well win-win for sure.

Blue Zone Diet – oh the holidays were a struggle.  I think one day, at my Mom’s house over Christmas I ate 12 snickerdoodles.  🙂 But, we are on our way.  Lots of plants, whole grains, limited animal products and our nutrient dense smoothies everyday.  The tide has changed.  I’m getting a bit more into cooking and that can only help.  I’ve adjusted my mantra about food just a bit:  Plants for nutrients, whole grains for fiber, fat for energy, sugar is a limited treat, animal products in moderation, organic as much as possible.

Sabbath – Ahhh….Sabbath.  We spent a couple weeks pushing so we could go home for Christmas and sacrificed our Sabbath days.  We will NOT do that again.  It really is the push of the enemy to not let us rest.  The “race” is longer than we know so our pace needs to be slower than we think! We are even more committed to taking a full Sabbath rest from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. It is essential.  We long to be all that God wants us to be and do for Him all He wants us to do and wearing ourselves out by not taking a Sabbath will sabotage our destiny and the enemy knows it.  So, taking a Sabbath is a slap to the enemy and a gift to us.  It is an act of trust and also an act of humility.

 

I know this is long…sorry.  Lastly, I want to finish with CCP’s.  CCP’s are crystal clear priorities.  As you can imagine with Robert’s new business, my Pilates business and school and Glorious Beads – life is FULL.  Most people our age are not starting new careers but are winding up the ones they’ve been doing for 30 years!!  Crystal Clear Priorities are something I set prayerfully each morning – I listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit about what my CCP’s are for the day.  This eliminates a long, never ending “to do list” that constantly made me feel like I was coming up short.  It provides me with focus and clarity and allows me to do the BIG things and let the little things go until the BIG stuff is done. It partners me with the Holy Spirit to lead me about what to do each day.The list of CCP’s is usually 3-5 – never more than 5.  I can typically get these done EVEN with the “surprises” that happen in life. I feel like I’m doing with God what scripture says: that He will lead us and guide us – we just have to pause and LISTEN!!  It gives me peace of mind and best of all it makes me feel FULFILLED.  Now, fulfilled is not something I’m very familiar with.  But, as I practice CCP’s each day and when I stick with it….I end each day feeling fulfilled. Fulfilled, for me is the sense that I did what was important, I wasn’t stressed, I have peace of mind and I don’t feel crazed/stressed or anxious.  I am pleased with the day, pleased with myself.  Fulfilled keeps me from being preoccupied and allows me to live in and experience each day more fully all while keeping my eyes on God and my destiny.  It’s a bit bumpy sometimes because I’ve not lived this way most of my life..but I LOVE the feeling of fulfilled.  I love that God will guide me through the Holy Spirit and this gives me great confidence in my decision of what to focus on and finish each day.  Also, I tend to give myself too much to do each day but when I partner with the Holy Spirit – it’s just enough.  How cool is that?

 

Until next time.  Thanks for reading.  This off the map stuff is exciting and challenging and very rewarding.  I’m thrilled we’ve gone “off the map” with God!

Spiritual Growth

7th anniversary part B

Part B

Number 9:18 and 22,23 NET

At the commandment of the Lord the Israelites would begin their journey, and at the commandment of the Lord they would make camp; as long as the cloud remained settled over the tabernacle they would camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle many days, then the Israelites obeyed the instructions of the Lord and did not journey.

Whether it was for two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud prolonged its stay over the tabernacle, the Israelites remained camped without traveling; but when it was taken up, they traveled on. 23 At the commandment of the Lord they camped, and at the commandment of the Lord they traveled on; they kept the instructions of the Lord according to the commandment of the Lord, by the authority of Moses.

 

As I worshipped this morning the Lord spoke to me about the cloud.  The cloud is His grace and His anointing for us.  The cloud signifies His will and where He has placed us. It is so important to stay or move with the cloud.  It’s not hard to identify when you are in sync with the cloud – because even in the difficult stuff you see, feel and receive the Lord’s power, provision and perspective. Why?  Because you have His grace AND His anointing!

The hard part (for me at least) is the relinquishing of my will to His will. When, I can put myself in the place of agreement with God then the grace and anointing are with me!  When I am not in agreement with God then it’s like moving through sludge and mud!  Sometimes, I stubbornly stay when the cloud moves.  Sometimes, I run ahead of the cloud.  But more and more and more…I just want to be covered by the cloud, in the cloud, surrounded by the cloud.  Why?  Because it’s the safest, most secure, most exciting place to be.

 

Lord, I believe you.  I choose to agree with you. I relinquish the need to understand and to try to see further ahead than what you are showing me.  Lord, help me to stay focused on what you’ve told me and to keep believing with confidence, hope and expectation.  Lord, you are so exciting, so good, so powerful and I want to live,move and breathe with you. Lord, thank you for reminding me today of 7 years ago – thank you for that remembrance and may it light a fire deep in my spirit, body and soul to believe what you’ve told me and shown me for the future.  Thank you for your cloud.

Encouragement, Spiritual Growth, Triathlon Training

7th anniversary part A

Worship at word of life North  was off the charts with God’s presence. The last song they sang was The Stand. What’s so interesting about this is that that song, was my theme song, exactly 7 years ago today when I raced in the 70.3 triathlon world championships. Getting to that championship is a whole testimony in itself. Today, God showed me a deeper layer of that experience. When he told me to go and qualify to get to World Championships – I chose to believe (nothing in my speed as a triathlete indicated I’d get there). Then, I chose to train to qualify. Then, despite finishing poorly at the race I picked to qualify at, I chose to believe and went to the banquet to get my qualification “ticket” to world championships (despite finishing 18th in my age group that day, I got 1 of I think 5 spots to go to world championships b/c others decided to not go). Then, I chose to train like a world champion during the 4 months between qualifying and racing. He provided everything I needed. My only contributions were to believe and to make that belief into action.
Before racing world championships, I became very sick. As I traveled to Florida, I was sick. The day of the race I didn’t feel my best but I chose to determine to race my best. The entire 6 hours and 4 minutes of the race were absolute misery of nausea and diarrhea. But I chose to not quit. I determined early on when I realized that this wasn’t going to be pretty, or fast or fun. I chose to finish, even  if I were the last one to finish.
The Lord showed me this morning as we sang The Stand, that it is in our believing and choosing actions that support the belief that we STAND. He showed me that He has put in me a huge about of tenacity and perseverance. He showed me that when we are willing to let Him get the glory (and trust me…as an athlete nothing about my times to qualify or on WC race day brought me glory and with intention I prayed to race for His glory and not mine.) that He would bring His glory through me. Then, He showed me that these past 7 years, which have been HARD, have been  “training and race” days too and that I’ve been tenacious and persevered and He is pleased with me. Oh transformation and working with God can be ugly and messy and many mistakes can be made…but God…brings us through and works it all out for good.
He then asked me, Daughter, are you willing to keep “training and racing” with your life for my glory? I’ve told you things that will be and I know you believe them. You know you can’t accomplish these things on your own. Are you believing as passionately as you did? Are your actions supporting that belief? Are you walking tall in confidence, hope and expectation of my provision for you like you did 7 years ago? The past 7 years have been much preparation..but now, I want you to commit more fully to believing and acting on that belief. I’m calling you UP to a higher faith, a greater expectation..and it’s all for my glory! Remember a few years ago when I whispered to you, “don’t do this for me…do this with me”?  Will you do this with Me?  With all my heart I want to do this with you!! Are you in daughter?
Oh Lord, what can I say? What can I do..but offer my heart dear God only to you. I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned to the one who gave it all. I’ll stand, my soul Lord to you surrendered. All I am is yours. All I am is yours. I’ll stand.
Yes, Lord, the answer is Yes. Let’s do this together.  Let’s go to the next level for your glory. Soli Deo Gloria. Soli Deo Gloria.
here are links to the 2 blogs I wrote about the 2010 World Championships if you are interested: https://wp.me/pTgvZ-1f, https://wp.me/pTgvZ-1a,
Encouragement, Spiritual Growth

From the heart – 3 things I’m learning

whiteboard-wallpaper-hd-resolution-3i5I’m going to just jump right in with this blog.  Growth with God for me seems to come in spurts and after about 7-8 months of silence, the teaching and lessons and circumstances to practice the lessons are coming in fast.  Here’s 3 things I’m learning that I hope will help you as you grow closer to Jesus each day.

  1.  Prayer is a conversation.  I’ve heard this for years and honestly prayer for me has been me talking to God.  And after I’m done I say “Thank you Lord, Amen.” And then, I go on with life.  Recently, I’ve was inspired to pray a different way.  I went to have quiet time to pray over a specific circumstance that I needed direction on and an answer to – time was of the essence.  So, I got on my knees and prayed something like this, “Lord, you know all things – you know both sides.  I’m wiping all my thoughts and everything off the whiteboard of this circumstance.  I am completely open.  Help me to see it your way and direct me to the right decision that is in agreement with your way.”  When I handed the Lord a “whiteboard” for this – He handed me a clear understanding and a clear directive to take action on.  Since then, I’m all about being a whiteboard and letting the Sovereign Lord tell me.  There is an immense clarity, confidence and peace that comes from this approach – not the least of which is listening instead of just talking. Sometimes we do need to be heard and to bear our soul but more often than not we need to just come humbly and say, “what do I do?” and then when He tells us do it.
  2. “With”ness – it’s a new word I created – withness.  It’s not a typo.  Too often, as Christ followers we are compelled to “serve”, to do for Christ to be His hands and feet.  In fact, many of us simply wear ourselves out in busyness – “holy” busyness.  But, it is through our withness that we will naturally become a witness.  Jesus wants us to BE WITH HIM.  To simply spend time apart from everything else and BE WITH HIM.  When we are filled with withness, we can truly, naturally and easily be a witness.
  3. Through the eyes of the Lion – this concept is really a few blogs long and was inspired by the book of the same name written by Levi Lusko.   Jesus is the Lion of Judah.  The Lion has dominion (rule, power) in his territory.  Jesus is also Emmanuel – God with us.  In fact He is IN you.  So, look out at everything and learn to see through the eyes of the lion.  What does the Lion see?  A lion is calm, confident, sure of his position and his power.  Is this how you see through your eyes?  Or is it through fear and doubt and emotion? Be confident of your lion within.  Trust the lion. Don’t trust what you see, trust what He sees.  Ask to see what he sees and ask him what to do.  Let the lion lead. There’s more to this…and I’ll blog on it when it has marinated and percolated..but..think on it and of course, check out Levi’s book, Through the eyes of the Lion.  It is a worthy read.

May God bless you and show you truth.

Encouragement, Spiritual Growth

A rising tide lifts all ships

tsunamiI wrote not long ago about a Tsunami and how it rolls in off shore and as it’s rolls towards shore, things are changing profoundly. Lately, I just keep thinking over and over a rising tide lifts all ships.  The past couple of weeks, God has used Exodus 14 and Psalms 22 to show me things about deliverance, victory and true humility.  Tonight, I went to sleep and this statement woke me up and began to bring these things together:  God can’t/ won’t change our circumstances until we see them through eyes of faith. So here’s what I believe God is saying to His people right now.
I can’t and won’t change your circumstances until you begin to see them through eyes of faith.
Something has you in it’s grip because of circumstances I’ve permitted and you are allowing “it” to keep it’s grip on you.You are actually perpetuating it’s grip on you through one of two ways:
Pride which is independence or Doubt which is lack of trust in me.
I am encouraging you strongly that as you follow the pattern in Psalms 22 and enthrone me in praises and bow before me you will begin to work with me as I am working for you.  Until you place yourself in TRUE HUMILITY through enthroning me in praise and bowing before me you will remain gripped by these circumstances.
The danger is that right now, in the spiritual realm you don’t have time to hang on.  There is an unusual sense of urgency right now that I can’t fully share with you.   So please let go of the pride, let go of the doubt and work with me as I work for you!!
There is a choice you need to make regarding something very specific – say NO to your will and YIELD to my will.  This will begin to place you in TRUE HUMILITY before me.  Be brave and just decide to do this.  I John 2:15-17 reminds you of the importance of  saying NO and letting  go!
When you do, I can release my Royal Power on your behalf.
A Tsunami is rumbling off shore in the distance and continues to roll in.  The tide will rise.  You really don’t want to miss this opportunity, this timing.  Destiny can be slippery and sometimes the cost of not dropping something, of not getting in TRUE HUMILITY  will be FAR GREATER than you know.  Yield to me NOW and ask to see with your eyes of Faith.
Need me because this is your greatest asset and I long to HELP you.
Trust me because this is your greatest strength and I am fighting  FOR you.
Stay close to me because I am constantly WITH you.
Please take these circumstances that you are focused on and put them in your peripheral view.  Focus on where I am taking you.  These circumstances will be used to transform you and you will be given victory when you choose TRUE HUMILITY.  The transformation and deliverance and victory get delayed as does your destiny when you keep the circumstances in your focus and not your periphery.  Put these problems in your peripheral view and focus on what I’ve already shown you and told you – focus on your destiny not your circumstances.
You have in your hand what I want to use to bring you in to your destiny.  You have in your hand your victory.  Use it.  You’ve got it!
Stop wrestling with your circumstances.
Ignore these silly speed bumps you get focused on that are irrelevant.
Focus on what I’ve told you and focus on your destiny.
Get serious because the time is NOW.
prayer-on-my-knees4
I’m not parting the sea this time.  The Tsunami is rolling in and the waters will rise.  Enthrone me in your praise, bow before me and yield your will to mine and I will release Royal Power on your behalf and you will safely ride this rising tide in a ship and I will bring you to your destiny and you will be safe from the impending destruction this Tsunami will bring when it hits shore.
Don’t delay ok?  I want you to fulfill your destiny.  I designed it especially for you! Your destiny embodies my eternal purposes and dreams that I have anointed and appointed and planned to fulfill through you.  I am with you. Are you with me? Don’t miss your destiny by continuing to wrestle with your circumstances – release that pride, kill that doubt and work with me as I work for you!!  Then you will be on MY rising tide that lifts all ships!!
Hebrews 12:1,2
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  We do this my keeping our eyes on Jesus, the CHAMPION who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the JOY awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding it’s shame.  Now, he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Each time he said, my GRACE is ALL you need.  My POWER works best in weakness.  So, no I am GLAD to boast about my weaknesses so that the POWER of Christ can work through me.
Spiritual Growth

Lord, Bring me through!

images-1 Lord, bring me through. God is using the crucible (a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions) of our circumstances to strengthen us. To build our character and make us more like Jesus so that we can be who he made us to be and do what he has planned since before time began for us to do. He uses the crucible of our circumstances to deepen our need of him, our love for him and to show us his great power, love and fulfill his promises. He uses the crucible to transform us, strengthen us and prepare us. The crucible is painful, difficult and our natural human response is to want OUT.

In Gethsemane, Jesus was distressed at what he was about to go through to the point of crying tears of blood. He absolutely could have opted out- he could have not gone to the cross. But, just because this option was in His power to take, he didn’t. He went to the cross. He went through His crucible. The result? God raised him from the dead and He sits at the place of honor near God’s throne. The Cost benefit analysis on this one is clear!
God places us in crucibles of circumstances and crucibles of relationships and these are used for His purposes IF we cooperate with Him. Sometimes we are able to see that we are heading into the crucible and can brace ourselves for it.  Sometimes we just sort of go ” oh shoot here I am” after thrashing around a bit and sometimes we IGNORE the crucible that we are even in a crucible. Sometimes we decide to adapt to the crucible and never get out.
When we deny and ignore the crucible and the fact that it has divinely ordained purpose in it…we have quit on God and we have also decided that His best for us is to stay in this crucible.
But, all crucibles are temporary and used for a time. Begin to pray Lord bring me through and Lord help me to cooperate with what you are trying to create and forge in me. I’m here, you are with me…let’s do this!
As a triathleimageste, I always prayed and hoped for clear and smooth waters to swim in. I knew that the waters would be rough no matter what because of all the swimmers starting to swim at the same time when the gun went off. But, if the waters were smooth to start, once the swimmers got spread out a bit, smoother waters could be found. But, if the waters were choppy to start, then it’d be a tough swim the whole way. On those race days where I saw rough waters, I had to fortify myself more to create a calm, strong approach to the task at hand. It helped knowing that the swim doesn’t last forever. But, I had to swim the whole swim course. I couldn’t just do some of it.  And, if I didn’t swim I couldn’t go on to bike and then the run.  I had to swim to race, I had to swim to finish. I had to go through.
Oh, what would happen to us if  with confident hope and bold courageousness looked at our challenges and trials in life and said, “ok Lord, I’m in. I’m gonna cooperate. I know you are with me. I know this won’t last forever. I’m gonna do my part. Strengthen me, change me…I know it’s all for good and I know you are bringing me to my destiny and purpose through this.  Let’s do this Lord. Have your way with me.”
I never had a good swim in calm or choppy waters when I was stressed and fought the water. I had great swims when I was calmly courageous,  taking the swim one stroke at a time and dealing with each random toss of the water at a time. The difference in a lousy swim and a good one wasn’t the calmness or roughness of the water; it was my attitude and approach to the water. I had to be strong and cooperate.  Also, I never had a good race if I didn’t swim!
Isaiah 43:1-3
Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. I am the Lord, your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior.
Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
Philippians 1:6 says
Being confident of this,that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
God wants to finish what he starts. God has you in a crucible for a purpose. Cooperate. Know you aren’t alone and know that it will be worth it. You have to swim to race, you gotta get in the water.  No one can swim for you – no one.
Jesus is our example. And here is what Paul says about Jesus’ approach to his crucible and how we should cooperate as Jesus did!
Hebrews 12: 1-4

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.a Because of the joyb awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;c then you won’t become weary and give up. 4After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Wherever you are, pause and ask God to show you the reality in light of eternity. Then you can see you are in the crucible, cooperate with God who is with you and will not forsake you and He will bring you through. You will not be the same. The change brought about when you cooperate in the crucible is called spiritual transformation! You will be more like Jesus. You will not be the same- you will be better…so much better! Crucibles, like races don’t last forever. With God, you CAN do this!!

Paul’s says in Ephesians 3:20

Now all glory to God who is able through His might power at work within me to accomplish INFINTIELY more than I might ask or think.

Lord, bring me through!!

Encouragement, Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized

Follow your heart’s GPS

imagesPossibility. Potential. Exploration.

You may want to look up the definitions of these three powerful words!
What’s possible? How much more is possible if our response to the seemingly impossible were open instead of closed? How many explorations whether scientific, geographical or spiritual would not have occurred if someone hadn’t first considered the possibility?
How often do we shut down possibility without first exploring? Or how often do we shut down possibility and potential by not being willing to openly explore and do the work of exploration? How many times have we allowed people to limit possibility or at best narrow our possibility into what seems probable or likely to them? How many times have we shut down someone else’s potential or possibility down by pointing out the “reasons” it would not be possible?
Yet, historically speaking, we are the benefactors of others willingness to consider possibility and their determination to explore it at often great cost and sacrifice?
So, if the potential of possibility is so great why do we not risk exploration of it? Why do we shy away from potential and possibility as if they were deadly or dangerous?
Fear.
Fear of failure.
Fear of wasting time (don’t even get me started. How much TV do we watch? Facebook do we scroll through? How many times a day does one of your devices beep to give you an “Important” notification)
Fear of looking crazy and our lives don’t look like the typical American life.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of risking it “all”. What is “all”anyway? Safety? Security? We Americans place way too high a value on security. Yet, we are founded by huge risk takers and rooted on possibility, potential and exploration!!
I watched a video on how to organize information to write a book, screenplay or other large body of written work. The guy said something that hit me square between the eyes and stabbed my heart. He said, he writes to affect change in this world! Whoa! Crazy talk right there huh? He’s JUST a guy…like I’m just a woman. But, he sees possibility, he believes in potential and he’s using his talent, time and resources to create work that presents these ideas to others. If he didn’t and merely talked about it over coffee with a friend….how could change ever become possible?
So, this guys “crazy” talk affected me. My writing project, that has taken me nearly two years to really start and work on in any significant way, was held up by fear.  Yet, it was birthed out of passion to help others! I hadn’t seen the depth of this passion as clearly as I did while I watched that video. The fire of possibility was lit!
So, what’s in your heart? What possibility do you push down and instead get up everyday, go to work, buy new clothes, eat out and watch tv instead of doing? Our comfort and wealth as a society has made us soft and satisfied. Wake up! Look deep inside…there is so much really, really wrong all around us!! What possibility do you see? Are you willing to explore its potential? Are you willing to give it a chance? Are you willing to dare? Are you willing to risk? Are you willing to contribute in any way, large or small to the potential and possibility in each and everyone of us?
I bought a bracelet, nearly 20 years ago while on a buying trip in New York. Inscribed in French, it translated says: we must live not merely exist.
Me? I realized my heart and what I want to say and it’s worth the time, risk, focus and investment…it’s taken me a lot of exits off the freeway to finally decide to follow the God given GPS directions deep in my heart without fear and without diversion and distraction. (Well, I’m getting better at recognizing diversions and distractions…)
When I finish this writing project, if I am the only one to benefit and I am changed because of it and have more to give others, it’ll have been worth it. If, a few people read it, great. If it gets published, even better. If it becomes a good seller or best seller, stupendous. But the outcome isn’t my focus. The “success” of the project will be in the completion of the project. My focus is on the completion and the outcome is in Gods hands. Affecting even one person through your exploration of possibility and potential is worth it! Sometimes God gives us this burn in our heart and He is aiming at just one person. Sometimes He is aiming for a hundred, or a million, or an entire generation, or many future generations.  Sometimes, He is looking to affect all of humanity for all of eternity; like He did through Jesus!  It’s not how “big”…don’t get hung up there. Follow your heart’s GPS, follow Gods voice…when these two things merge great stuff happens!
Stop. Get quiet. Listen to your heart. Listen for Gods voice. Is there a possibility and potential you perhaps should take more seriously? Is there at the very least some exploration you should do because it is at least worthy of some exploration? Go ahead, do it! Do it for all of us. Do it for you. Do it for the one, or the hundred or the entire generation.
 Is there someone around you that believes in possibility, potential and exploration? Support them! Don’t quietly think, that’s stupid or that’ll never work or that won’t happen or that’s too risky.  Speak life into it! What’s the worst that can happen? Yeah, that what I thought…the worst really isn’t that bad and a small price indeed to pay in the seeking of possibility and potential via exploration! Be there for them..it may take a few failures…remember, sometimes the price is high!
I believe that Gods voice is very, very clear if we listen! If God is breathing a dream in you, a vision of possibility…..pay attention! Contribute!!
Not sure you know Gods voice? I have 2 suggestions:
1.  Start reading the Bible daily with pen and paper handy and listen.
2. Pick up a killer book by Priscilla Shirer called Discerning the Voice of God.
Let’s stop existing and live up to our God created, God inspired potential and purpose! Explore,the possibility…follow it…see where God leads!
Spiritual Growth, Triathlon Training

Swimming with Sharks and staying alive

Tri swimLately, I have been feeling like Dora from the movie Finding Nemo swimming in shark infested waters.  My natural reaction is to swim as fast as I can, as far as I can.  It’s the logical thing to do when confronted with harm and danger. But, instead, I’ve decided to stay and swim.  In this situation I had to choose.  Sometimes we don’t have a choice and we must stay and swim.  If you too are swimming in shark infested waters, here are somethings I’ve learned. I hope they will help you swim strong too.

* Realize where you are swimming!  See the sharks.  Recognize the situation.  Listen.  Observe.  Assess. Take your time in doing this.  Don’t rush it.  Listening and observing can be like peeling layers off an onion. Accept the truth that actions and behaviors show.  Talk is cheap and often contradicts behavior and actions.

*Now, it’s time to ask the question do I swim away  or do I stay and swim ? As a Christ follower, I can’t determine this on my own.  I have to ask Christ!  If He says stay I stay.  If He says swim away, I swim away. There is a time for staying and a time for swimming away.  Be sure you make the right decision here. Again, take your time. You may take a few bites and the water may get a little bloody; but if this is a “stay” situation and you swim away…guess what?  You’ll get another “opportunity” to swim with the sharks again sooner or later!

*If the answer is swim away – by all means swim away with everything you have.  You can stop reading right now!

*If Christ is keeping you in the waters; then Christ also has a way for you to swim!  Again, ask Christ to show you how to do this!  He will.  If He has told you to stay and swim, you can count on a few very important things:

1.  That He has indeed prepared you for this swim.  You are ready.

2.  That you will need to keep your eyes on Him and not the sharks.

3.  That you will have to want to please Him more than you want to defend yourself or run the other direction.

 

During my triathlon days, I reached a point in my swimming ability where I needed to change my approach to the swim portion of the race.  Prior to this point, I had usually swam off the back of my swim wave.  I had not been a strong swimmer and swimming off the back kept me out of the fray of people kicking and shoving and struggling at the start of the swim.  But, I was, at this point not longer able to swim off the back because I was now both a strong swimmer and a pretty fast swimmer.  So, for this race, for the first time, I decided to swim off the front of my swim wave with the sharks! I was confidently nervous!

The night before the race, I was chatting with a couple of women who had raced this race before.  They gave me a very KEY piece of information.  The swim course would be marked by a tow line that was bright yellow and was about 2 feet beneath the surface of the water.  But this bright yellow line would be easily visible. They advised me to jump off the front of my wave, find the yellow line and swim right next to it the whole way. This would mean my siting would need to be minimal and I could swim a very straight course (preventing me from swimming any extra distance which is common in open water swimming).  I was excited about this KEY advice and it gave me additional purpose to stick with my plan to swim off the front.

Race morning came and there was a huge fog over the lake.  The large orange buoys that marked the swim course from above could not be seen.  The race start was delayed so the fog could lift somewhat.  Finally, it was my turn to get in the water.  I nervously went right to the farthest front point allowed in my wave.  Many other women hung way back.  I was focused on finding the yellow line.  I wasn’t worried about the fog.  I wasn’t worried about the other swimmers.  I just needed to trust my new found ability, trust that I’d find the yellow line and then swim my swim.  The gun went off.  I thrust myself forward and swam like crazy barely taking breaths until I have found the line!  It was bright yellow!  Easily visible and straight as an arrow.  Very few athletes ahead of me were even swimming near it!  Woo hoo!!  I quickly settled into my race pace and honestly I had a really good time.  As I rounded the last corner and was heading for shore I saw traffic near the yellow line for the first time.  A bunch of big guys, in wetsuits, that were not good swimmers.  What to do?  Get slowed down by them?  Swim around them and lose the yellow line? I kept looking and watching.  Finally, I caught up to them.  And I laughed as a tiny gap between them opened up. I  stretched my body as long and narrow as I rolled on my side and swam right through the middle of them!  I was home free!  A few hundred yards and I would be done with the swim.  I had gone off the front of the swim wave.  I had followed the yellow line. I had found a way through the blockade of big guys! As I got out of the water and ran toward my bike, I heard Robert yell, “you are third out of the water!”  What?  me?  Kimberly?  Third out of the water?  In the past I had been one of the last 3 out of the water!

The memory of this swim powers me as I follow Christ and learn to swim with the sharks by knowing I’m going to finish, knowing that Christ has trained and equipped me for this “swim”, knowing that if I keep my eyes on Christ (my yellow line) I will survive, thrive and come out obediently victorious!

It is my hope and my prayer that if you are indeed swimming with the sharks that you will ask Christ to guide you, trust His training and keep your eyes on Him and not the sharks.

 

 

Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized

Marinating on Pie Chart living versus Concentric circle living – part 2

Work from inner circles to outer circles
Work from inner circles to outer circles

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have prayed about what to do with my time, how to balance my life, how to make the “load” even (remember the washing machine blog?) and after writing the blog the other day about Pie Charts and God centered living, I continue to ponder the differences.  As I marinated, I had a pretty big AHA revelation moment!

The tsunami wave in my life has been trying to get balance in my life in a world that seems to want me to squeeze more and more and more “priorities” into my life.  Yet, God centered living does NOT do that.  In Psalm 103 – He remembers we are ONLY dust. God made us.  He knows our limitations.  He wouldn’t design a life for us that wears us down.  Jesus said, I came that you might have life and have it to the FULL – He didn’t say empty!  So I believe that I shouldn’t struggle with balance and yet I do!!  Grrr…

But, here is the AHA moment that has brought power and freedom for me and I pray it will for you too. When you are living a concentric circle God centered life, – balance is no longer the issue!!  I will write that again. Balance is no longer the issue. With a pie chart life, balance is always, always the issue because you are dividing your life up. In God centered living balance is natural and a given.

In God centered living, I revolve my life around Him and everything naturally radiates from there.  Life will radiate from the innermost circle to the outer circle in this order:  God, relationships, church and work.

Wow, I feel some serious peace and relief about this and I’m happy to stop trying so hard to balance.  Instead, I will just focus on God first and let everything else radiate and fall into place naturally from there!

As I said last week, I haven’t figured this all out, but this AHA is a big one!!

Any thoughts?  I’d love to hear them!

 

I hope that you will have a great weekend.  Stay tuned, I still have that 11 years in the dessert blog to write!