The day after the world celebrates love, I’m bringing you some Biblical wisdom on how we do that the rest of the days of the year. These words are not mine, they are a man named Paul’s.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.
On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 12 NIV
Now, that is a loooong list of how to live out love. What I plan to do, and my challenge to you, is to read this every morning for the rest of the month. Then let your heart and eyes settle on one statement to apply to your day. Before you know it, we will be loving as we were created to, as close to Jesus as possible.
Can you tell that horizon pictures are my favorite? Do you know why? Maybe they are yours, too. Maybe you’ve never considered them the way that I do…
As we close out 2019 and head into a new year, there is so much symbolism behind the picture of a beautiful horizon. To believe that you are embarking upon something fantastic and magical is the optimism of life that I want to live with. Each new day is an opportunity. But sometimes I take that for granted. It’s easy to do. But as we look forward to 2020, I encourage you to see the newness with an improved outlook on what is to come.
It is so easy to fear the future… to worry and fret over things that are out of your control. The difficult thing to do is to live every day believing that things will get better. That we will be more. That the world will heal.
If you want to start the year out positively, take a look back on all that you accomplished this year. You’ve done a lot, likely made it through some tough stuff. Be proud of all that you have finished.
Then evaluate things that didn’t go as planned. I fully believe that the reason people make jokes about new year’s resolutions and them not sticking is because they didn’t do the work of analyzing their real-life patterns and habits before taking on a new year. If you make the same resolution every year, don’t this year. Instead plan for success and switch it up.
For me, the new year is always about resetting and I love doing that. Luckily we can reset our habits and form new ones. Instead of reaching for our phones to scroll, we CAN reach for a book or play with our children. Instead of stuffing carbs in our mouths, we CAN choose veggies. Instead of drinking alcohol/soda/other sugary drinks like they are in limited quantities, we CAN drink water. Instead of dwelling on the negative, we CAN think positively. I know that we can.
So I pray that as the year winds down, you set aside some time to celebrate all that you’ve done, realize how you want to experience the one life you have, and make a plan to live that way. Share all of that with your spouse or a trusted friend and you are more likely to succeed.
I believe in you. The horizon of your life is a breathtaking one. Go make that beautiful life happen.
I’ve been convicted by the way I spend my time. For those of you that don’t know, conviction is an inner upset or feeling of guilt. Most of the time, the word is used in its other meaning, pertaining to laws and courts and judges, but in this form, it is an inner judge. Sometimes those feelings of mine are prompted by love (God), other times those feelings are prompted by self-hate (Satan). And I wanted to share my revelation with you here in case you have felt the same way.
Last night, I attended my church’s monthly service that is easily the favorite of lots of members of our church. Every time my family and I go, there is tremendous blessing, reset, and relief. But getting us there is another story. I’ll just tell you the story of yesterday…
The day started with three different crews of workers on our property (still recovering from the Memorial Day tornado). I was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer in my son’s class, but that meant I had to get my other two cherubs up and out to Nani’s. Once there, we were late to school. It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re fine. 🙂
After our short school day, I retrieved the other kiddos and headed out to our afternoon plans – lunch and taking the car to the shop. I’m gonna stop right there… I don’t believe that I am Wonder Woman, but sometimes I take on ridiculous things to prove to myself that I can and will handle it. Who takes three kids to the car dealer’s service shop lobby? Yep, that’d be me. The fun started before we ever got there.
When we stopped by the lunch place with a play area for the kids (perfect idea – wear the kids out, right?), my youngest, potty-trained-ish son decided that he would not let me know that he had to go. When I got him back to his seat to game plan clean up and new clothes, he started coughing so hard that other moms were packing up their stuff, getting ready to head out just from the sound of my little baby. Then he made himself puke up his just-eaten lunch. Luckily, God had sent me an angel, a friend that just so happened to meet up with me on a whim. She was able to help me tremendously! After cleaning up, changing back into p.j.s, and corralling the other two Metz babes, we had to get over to the car dealership.
Once there, my kids were well-behaved, given the circumstances. If you call well-behaved scavenging through the waiting area’s snack station multiple times, running into a sales lady’s office and doing dance moves, and making all of the sensible adults that decided to go solo to the car place shake their heads. It was fun.
We made it through, and the rest of our day carried on. I knew that we “should” go to church at 7, but when my husband called to let me know he was going to be home a little late, I started questioning if we should even try to make it. And for an hour, I decided we were just going to stay home. But I knew that we would be blessed by going. Have you ever been there? You know that something good will happen, but you go back and forth trying to talk yourself into something or out of something? It’s an annoying place for me. Jesus himself calls it “the evil place.” The Bible tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no (Matt. 5:37). I think that’s because when we are in between, it’s half-hearted. God wants our whole heart. That’s a much more peaceful place.
In a last-minute decision, I told the kids that we would eat a quick leftover dinner, make a to-go plate for daddy to eat on the way in the car and that was the final decision. That is exactly what happened. Praise Jesus! But the journey of getting to the final decision was filled with doubt and frustration. When we got there though…
It was amazing! The worship was so good. We took communion with our church. The message was outstanding. And I felt conviction… like God himself said, “You decide how you spend your time. If you are seeking Me first, I am not a wait-and-see decision in your life. You plan to meet with me. You don’t see how the rest of your day goes and then if it is convenient for you and your family, show up. No, you show up so that the rest of your life is in line with the truth and wisdom I want to share with you. Write me in your calendar first. Each day.”
Take what you want from that revelation. Maybe that resonates with you. Maybe you stopped reading a long time ago. But rest in this: God made you. He loves you. He wants you to seek Him first. No matter how your day goes.
Sometimes when you sit and reflect on your own shortcomings, you begin to feel God’s grace and can choose to give yourself the same grace He does. In my morning writing time, I wrote down “What is the difference between a goal and a rule?” That might seem silly to some, but I start each new day with rules. I need to make a shift to start each day with goals. Maybe you do, too. I looked up the difference in the definitions and the old third-grade teacher in me was beaming with pride as I was actually using a skill that I have taught a million times in my life.
When you don’t know, look it up. Most of the time, I go to the Bible to see what God’s word says when I’m allowing the other false information available to us today to cloud my vision. Today, I went straight to the dictionary… well, the digital version.
A goal is the result when effort is directed toward an end/aim. It’s also achievement toward that end. Thank you, Dictionary.com! This means that when I set out with a goal for the day (i.e. stay away from nachos), I know it’s a goal if I am putting effort toward achieving it by the end of the day today. If I make it to bed tonight and haven’t had a nacho, I can have a met goal celebration.
A rule is a regulation governing conduct or actions. Just the word “regulation” feels gross to me. I am a rule-follower by nature, but you know what? I don’t really love that about myself. I live a life of adhering to others’ rules, and while I have no plans to switch up and become a rebel starting today, I would rather live a life of freedom. You too?
So let’s decide… if just for today, you give yourself the same grace God does, how would that look? I’m not saying to go swimming in a tub of nachos cause who cares, but set one goal and work to achieve it. Celebrate if you make it. Give grace if you don’t. And maybe, just maybe, if we can learn to apply this goal/grace principle to ourselves, we will be able to love others better, as well.
“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.“
Where morning dawns, there is newness. Where evening fades, we let go of another day. This truth has been on my heart for a while now. For whatever we decide to carry over into the next day goes with us, but God makes all things new every morning. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, today is new. And new joys await each of us today!
Have you carried anything with you into today? Hurt? Disappointment? Guilt? I’m pleading with you to lay it down. Let today begin anew. God doesn’t want us to dwell on matters of the past. You can’t redo anything, but you can live differently today.
I am learning the importance of checking the voice in my head. If I keep rehashing my own mistakes or the ways others have hurt me, my day will start off bad and keep getting worse. If I shut up the voice of negativity and self-criticism, I can live a life of freedom, the one I know I am called to live.
I don’t know about you, but I love the change of seasons. It doesn’t matter which one. I love newness and old traditions coming back to life. Of all of the seasons, fall is my absolute favorite.
When I left the Midwest for a while for the southern scenery that rejuvenated my soul, I dearly missed the changing colors of leaves, the natural flow of seasonal change. My childhood memories all circulate around this time of year and the family fun we had together. My homesickness was never as severe as it was during the fall.
But now that I am back, I do not take one day of this season for granted. So as I start my favorite few months, I’m reflecting on the last season and even the one before. I use every new season to reevaluate. I’m not so much of a New-Year’s-Resolution girl as I am an All-Things-New girl. Let me explain the difference.
I used to live for the new year, new goals, new opportunities… but I would become disappointed in myself if I didn’t keep up with what I set out to do. I realized that I was making a good thing (setting goals/having a plan) a very self-centered, bad thing. Instead, I now use each first day of a new season to look back and plan ahead. I look at the things that worked in the past few months and plan to keep those up. I look at the things that left me feeling low and plan to remove those as best as possible.
I’m not perfect. I give myself more grace today than I ever have before. But I am capable of living with intention and deciding what I want my life to be like. The second that goes to the extreme and I’m hyper-monitoring my own every move, I know that I have moved into dangerous ground. You see, God wants to be first in your life and in mine. If we put things in the place He is to hold, even if they are good things, we are still resting in our own strength.
Jesus loves the little children… all the children of the world.
I can’t say enough about these little faces, what blessings they have been to me. I prayed for them before I even knew their daddy. I tuck them in at night and am in awe of the role I get to play in their lives. Tears well up thinking of all that they are and all that they will be. So excited to live life as their mommy!
And then, eyes are rolled at me… it’s a new thing she’s doing. I’m told “NO” by the littlest one. And my middle baby, he will go after a sibling in a second if they push his buttons. They are such wonderful reminders of God’s love and faithfulness. Even when we are moody. Even when we object. Even when we harm others. He loves us. We are imperfect children perfectly loved by our Father. And by His son. All the children of the world. We are loved!