I was getting ready for church last Sunday and felt God's presence rather strong. I began praying and just allowing His Spirit to lead me from one prayer to the next. I prayed for the service, our pastor, worship, God's presence, my family and friends, and a few very specific prayers of confirmation for myself. It was God letting me know He needed someone to usher in His Spirit, so He could love on others and let them know He was in fact listening to their prayers. I was honored (and I'm sure there were others praying in similar fashion).
As soon as I went to sit down, I knew God was going to be there. One of the dear friends I had prayed for was sitting a lone, and the minute I sat beside her, I knew God was showing up for her. Once worship service began, I knew He was showing up for the congregation. Once we were invited to step up to the alter, I knew He was loving on a lot of people who needed to be in His presence (including myself). I also knew He was confirming a couple things in my heart. As the service went on, I knew He was answering my prayer to move forward, regardless of the "failings" in the past couple of weeks (my perspective, not His).
This series on Margin, and the third sermon, is really just what I needed. I had been shrinking back from being more public about devotions and the journey I have been on. Yes, it came at a time when I knew I was not allowing enough margin in my life to be who I needed to be to my husband and children, but I also turned it into an opportunity to run away from some things I knew God was asking me to do. I know, no one else ever does that! Ha!
I started convincing myself no one needed to hear from me. With the plethora of information out there online, in books, and so on, my two cents certainly didn't matter. With all the great leaders for women like Beth Moore, Lysa Terkeurst and Courtney Joseph - what could I possibly add? I was seeing it all wrong. I was thinking on a larger scale, when God needed me to see it on a smaller, more intimate scale.
This journey I have been on has led me to some really amazing women! Women I might not have met or grown so close to, had it not been for some of the challenges we have experienced together. These women are ALL in my area and we have the pleasure of seeing one another in person on a regular basis. Some of us share the same church home, but not all of us. What we do share is our love for Christ, our husbands, our children and our community. The devotions, the food, and the healthy living are all bonus subjects we get to discuss with one another. God helped me to see, I do have something to offer and that is encouragement, online throughout the day and in person when our paths cross for a moment or two.
Today, I hope you are encouraged! I hope you are part of a group of people whom you feel deeply connected with, receive encouragement from, are able to discuss things with, and are able to just turn to for prayer and edification when you need it. If you aren't, I pray you discover them. I pray you see where God may be opening the door for you to be able to enjoy the company of others who make you stronger. And please know, I am more than happy to connect with you if you are looking for encouragement.
I love watching my oldest daughter play and I get very, how should I say it, animated. I tend to whoop and holler a bit and later wonder if I looked like a goof. Last night’s game was a nail biter, and I may have been more animated than normal. My daughter was playing pretty rough (I do not condone, it’s just the way she plays), and I could see it was killing her not to play because of fouls. I gestured a thumbs up while she sat the bench and proceeded to carry on. That’s not the story. The story comes AFTER the game.
After my husband and I had discussed the game with our daughter, we all sort of enjoyed silence. No talking for the rest of our forty-five minute drive home, just thinking (I’m pretty sure I was fighting to stay awake ;) ). It was like the Holy Spirit was tying several events together for me, and I will do my best to share, because I believe there is value in it…
How many times do we feel we get “pulled from the game” and sidelined, because we have gone at life too hard, too fast, and end up “fouling” because of our fervor? How many times do we feel like there is SO much on the line, it can sometime be hard to refrain ourselves from going too far and we may actually harm another, albeit, unintentionally? How many times do we take the time to pause, reflect, learn, accept and then move forward with an enlightened understanding, in hopes of not continuing on?
Before the break, I had begun to feel a bit overwhelmed. There was work, school for the girls, home, dinners, preparing for Christmas – PLUS continuing devotions and feeling the need to post this and that, because of what had begun. My days were filled to the brim. It seemed there was no wiggle room and I was feeling it. This feeling led me to think about a book my husband once read, called, “Margin”. I thought to myself, I really need to read that book. I put it off. But the thoughts continued. When I get up, I check to see if there are messages. I read. I post. I reply if someone replies. Go to the restroom (don’t tell me I’m the only one who checks social media in the restroom!), check to see if anyone “NEEDS” anything from me. Have a moment in the car? Check to see if anyone has responded. Every. Second. Was. Becoming. Full.
I didn’t like it, but I felt like I had to keep up the pace, because it was God wanted me to do. Or so I had told myself. Later, when I began waking up in the middle of the night thinking it was time for a social media fast, I realized I had added part – lots of parts – God didn’t necessarily need me to add. The result? I was beginning to foul out. I was sidelined for a few days and I knew I needed to not be so active in the social media world. He confirmed this for me, too.
The first confirmation, He spoke to my heart through my girlfriend who asked if I was at church service for the first part of a series titled, you guessed it, “Margin”. What the what?!? I love when God does that. The second confirmation, part two of the series and my husband’s response. He expressed to me how true the service was for him, and that he was really glad we went. This is huge. He rarely ever desires to discuss the sermon. He always wants to move on with the day. I have accepted that, but was very thrilled to have him say he was looking forward to the messages. We discussed the book, he went and dug it out from his bookshelf, and I am going to read it! The third confirmation? The conversation with my youngest daughter.
The evening before I was to return to work, I felt a strong nudge to have a chat with my daughters. After some patience and a bit of probing, my youngest began crying. We had been talking about their message in Youth, on loving the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind, and loving others as yourself. It seemed harmless, but when she began weeping, my heart sank and right away God laid it on my heart to be gentle and listen to her. I sensed she had been struggling to believe because of all her questions. I mean, who DOESN’T have questions? She expressed how she felt guilty and ashamed that she didn’t have total faith and didn’t buy into everything 100%. Then I began to cry.
Not because of her doubts and questions, but because I knew she had been wrestling with this for some time now, and I was just now noticing. I was just now taking the time to talk with her. I had just now freed up my schedule to allow this critical conversation to take place. Talk about a dagger to the heart… We spent the hour or two that followed, having a really good discussion and I simply showered her with all I knew God needed her to know. I know she went to sleep at peace, but I was wide awake. I ABSOLUTELY needed to take the time away from social media.
The days that followed, every time I felt like I was letting anyone who may be following along, down, I would think of my daughter and our chat. Or I would think of my husband and the new avenue God was providing for us to communicate. Today, I think of my oldest daughter, who felt bad for going at it too hard and not performing the same as she did just a few weeks ago. And I can relate. I am reminded that I could easily become like the leaders in Ezekiel who puffed themselves up, rather than looking after the fold. I could easily allow what I think is good, to fill the place where I am supposed to be walking out God’s will. I could easily be like Saul and add my own little twist to what He has instructed me to do, and justify why it’s ok. I could easily take what the Good Coach has instructed me to do, and go a little too far with it in my own zeal.
I’m grateful for the bench! I’m grateful He took me out of the game for a bit and helped me to see where I was making mistakes. I’m glad He has been coaching me, because He loves me, and He loves others. I’m glad He did all this amidst the Shepherdess Rise Up devotions, because I believe this may be at the heart for a lot of women (and men).
I pray you have a blessed day. Please let me know if this resonated with you at all. Blessings!
I wanted to take a moment to expand on this morning’s devotion a bit. It was SO GOOD. I honestly have never read Psalm 119 in its entirety, which made it even more enlightening for me. When I came away from my time in God’s Word this morning, I was energized. Which was really good, because I had been feeling sort of icky lately. I mean REALLY ICKY. Fatigued, apathetic, achy and discouraged, all things I felt were the cause of a bug or something.
As I made my bed and prepared breakfast for my kiddos before work, the thought continued in my mind, “Do I pant after God’s Word?” David said he panted after God’s Word, verse 131. The weeks during the challenge I was excited to get up and get into God’s Word. I was ready to see what Jesus had to say to my heart. But recently, I had been dragging myself out of bed in the morning. Many areas of my life had been “thrown off”: no longer Whole30 (huge for me), exercise has been non-existent, sleep has been ok, not taking supplements, all this combined seemed to be creating stress in my mind and body again. To compound the situation, I chose to read a book explaining a religion many detest right now, as a result I felt a huge weight and heaviness I couldn’t really explain.
Last night in prayer with my youngest daughter, there was an refreshing anointing in my words I haven’t felt in a while. This morning I was wide awake at 4am, and into God’s Word by 5 (I tossed and turned but could not go back to sleep). I am so glad God led me to Psalm 119. So glad. It caused me to ask questions… Do I allow the Word of God to encourage, revive and place in me hope? Or am I just reading to read, because it is the right thing to do? Do I pant after God’s Word? Better yet, does my life compel my family to crave God’s Word, or is it causing them to crave something else? Ooohhhh……this is a big one.
The whole idea behind Shepherdess Rise Up is to inspire those of us responsible for the well-being of others, to become better care givers of their souls. To genuinely look after them in ways that draw them to the Lord, rather than away. If I read and read, but use what I have read to “hit someone over the head” with what I have learned, they likely won’t be drawn to God’s Word. If I sense God has shared something meant to address something for me personally, but judge others because they’re not doing the same, I’m guessing I won’t draw others to the Lord. However, if I read a revealed truth or will of God, I allow it to search my heart, ask God to make it real in my life by causing me to live it out, others may witness the authenticity of my demeanor and WANT to know more. If I accept correction as meant only for me and go about my day loving others where they are and trusting God will move in His timing and ways, I may better represent God’s love to them, during their process of revelation.
Many of us know intellectually it is a good idea to read the Bible and to study God’s Word. Yet, we sometimes choose to allow other things to take its place. Or we choose a devotion written by others to fill in this spot of our lives. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but be encouraged to get into the Word yourself, and see what God has for you. There may be a gift of deliverance that will help your relationship with your husband. There may be knowledge received that will encourage you with your children. There may be a liberating gift to repent and more freely walk with Christ. There may be a gift of conviction empowering you to honor purity and sanctity.
Just a few things to ponder as we move through the rest of our week, and pray about. I hope you're intrigued and dig deep :)
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