A Life Contrary

living a life out of the ordinary

Archive for the tag “Spiritual”

Politico, I am not…

Once upon a time, I thrived on the political arena.  As a youngster, I loved staying up late to watch Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.  I would debate along with the rest of the panel and loved figuring out my position and listening to others.  Government and civics were my favorite subjects in school.

I had decided to major in Political Science in college.  I even had an ‘in’ in the department.  Then I went to my first class.  It was bad.  Political Science in college was nothing like I thought it would be.  It was… boring.  It took me a minute, but I finally found a different major.  Though, I still kept my political side alive and thriving in the background.

After I got married, I would watch news channels constantly.  I didn’t talk as openly, but I didn’t shy away from discussion either.  My BFF and I would debate news (and news stories) all the time.  I followed most of the important stuff and few of the minor things.

Things slowed a bit when I had a toddler running around and Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews were exchanged for the Backyardigans and Blue’s Clues.  I still tried to hit the wavetops, but I couldn’t keep up with the minutiae for a while.  I still loved to talk about politics with those who I felt comfortable with, but I also listened a fair amount.

Once we moved to Rhode Island, my love for the political arena was waning, but talk radio on my commute was still a lot of fun.  I enjoyed talking back and, let’s be honest, New England politics is pretty much like a soap opera. Voter fraud, politicians who were legit criminals, and teamsters!  

It was quite sensational and also very eye-opening.  I realized that politics was always kind of sensational and salacious.  It was also always pretty corrupt.  Politics was a business just like anything else.  It was a career that people chose and worked at.  It was no longer a body of elected peer chosen to represent the people and area they came from.  I looked around and realized that my options for representation weren’t people that looked like me or that held my beliefs and opinions, they were people who’d been taught how to talk and act to get the most votes much in the same way that I had been taught the best way to sell a product to a customer.

Politics was much more than government and civics and history as I had studied in school.  Now it was a national soap opera that would be fascinating and amazing to watch, were it not for the fact that these are the people that we select to make laws and represent us to the world.

All of this is a roundabout way of stating my opinion on today’s inauguration and all the hullabaloo that is surrounding it.  Did I vote for Trump or Clinton?  Am I a Republican or Democrat?  None of that really matters to be honest.  We have a new president.  That’s it.  We have to respect the position whether we respect the person or not.  We’ve had this issue before.  We elected a suspected adulterer to the country’s top office.  We elected a suspected “dimwit” as the leader of the free world.  We elected a suspected “socialist” as the President of the United States.  Now we’ve elected a bigot or idiot or whatever you want to call him.  Each term, we have to deal with faults and issues, whether “our guy” was elected or not.

I am not happy with the state of things, but that is not anything new.  I’m not necessarily happy with my elected officials.  However, whining or sticking my head in the sand will not help anything.  Complaining and making an idiot out of myself on social media will not affect the outcome.  The best thing we can do is to pray for our leaders and be the best we can be.  Love God and love each other and see where that takes us.

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Quieting the Noise and Listening for Answers

Confession time:  I both love to pray and simultaneously don’t do it nearly often enough.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like to talk to God while driving or when washing dishes, etc.  Talking is easy.  I do it all.  The.  Time.  That’s why I love it.  I can vent to God.  I can tell him all my troubles.  I can share whatever it on my heart without fear.

That isn’t what’s hard.  No, I have much more of a problem with the listening aspect of prayer.  I have trouble being silent and letting God get a word in from time to time.  Did you know that the word translated as prayer in the bible is overwhelming more of a listening than a talking type of prayer?  Around 75% of the time, it is used as listening rather than talking.

Listening.

Sitting still.

Being silent.

These are things that don’t come naturally to me.  Even as I sit here typing away, I keep thinking that I need to turn on some music or have an audiobook or podcast playing in the background.  But this is what God wants.  He wants us to be silent so that we can hear His voice.  Now certainly He can make himself known over the sound of all the noise, but why should He have to do this?  Why can’t I take a little time each day and listen for Him, listen to Him?  Because it is amazing what He has to say.

Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

Often times, we think of God speaking to us in prayer as a call to action.  We pray that He will tell us what to do in a certain situation or give us direction on major life events.  Sometimes we pray for others who are going through something, an illness or loss.  We pray for healing and comfort.  We pray for all kinds of things.  But do we listen, too?  Do we wait to hear what God has to say?

God answers our prayers in a great many ways.  Sometimes He uses signs.  For example, my pastor was trying to discern whether or not to start a sermon series on Philippians when several things began to come together culminating with a guy coming into the bank where he worked had on a Philippians 4:4 tee shirt:  Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice!

Sometimes God answers our prayer with Scripture.  A friend shared last week that she’d been praying for God to show her how to work through a grieving process when she was shown Romans 12:1-2 and knew immediately that she needed to start renewing her mind and begin to change her thoughts so she’d be more in line with God than with her grief.

Other times, God can answer prayers by simply having a friend send a cookie through the mail.  And you receive it just after having the worst day ever and needing a pick-me-up.  (This happened to me a couple weeks ago).

And sometimes, God doesn’t answer our prayers.  At least not immediately or in the way we were expecting.  Sometimes the answer is ‘No’ and we simply don’t recognize it at the time.  It’s hard for us to realize that the God of all Creation may not actually give us the desire of our heart.  It’s even harder for us to realize that sometimes that desire of our heart, isn’t actually what we need.

Regardless of how God shows us the answer to our prayers, or what the answer is, we still have to acknowledge that God does answer prayer.  We just have to be willing to listen to it and listen for it.

 Want to hear more about prayer, or more specifically answered prayer?  Check out the link up at Mrs. Disciple and hear what others are saying.

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Embarking on a Journey to Find my Passions

I’ve never been one to talk about my passions.  Part of that is the puritanical way in which I was raised (the very word – passion – was definitely NOT part of my vocabulary).  And part of it is the fact that there was literally never much that I was passionate about.

I have always loved to write.  Crafting fictions and poems from my youth, but it was never something that I felt a yearning to do.  It was just something that I always did.

I have always loved music.  I played flute in junior high and whereas I never excelled there was always something great about seeing a piece of music come together.  I’ve also loved listening to music.  Not tied to genre, I definitely like to explore.

Likewise, there are things that I have adamantly avoided, like public speaking or the plague.  I’m not one to get up in front of groups and speak.  I’ve also never really fancied myself a good teacher, which is ironic considering that we now homeschool (more on that in a moment).

I’ve found things that I would describe as my jam (like music) or my happy place (like cooking), but I’ve never really had something that was my thing.  This thing that is mine and that I do and if I don’t do it then I just don’t function.  I’ve never really had a passion before.  Even when going to college, I couldn’t decide on a major or “What I wanted to do when I grew up.”

But the Lord has been bringing me on a journey.  Late last year, He gave me the word ‘Joy’ as my #oneword for 2016.  I hadn’t thought about how all that would play out, but I have been truly trying to seek out joy and learn more about what brings me joy and how to seek it out.

By way of this, I came up with three goals that I want to work on for the year:  Focusing/Meditating on Joy, Running, and Writing/Blogging.  As I set these goals, I realized that writing was part of joy for me.  I realized that writing was more than just something that I liked or enjoyed.  It brought me joy.  It really was a passion!

I’ve since discerned that I have a true passion for women’s ministry.  God broke through my public speaking/teaching barriers when I was at a chapel that needed teachers and I was pretty much it.  I’m still not super confident, but I’ve learned the value of women studying and learning about God and His Word and have submitted myself to doing what needs to be done to accomplish that.

It is still a learning process, but at 35 I’d say that it is about time for me to figure out my passions and actually do something about it.  I’ve got two goals (one is this blog) that I’m actively working toward achieving that coincide with my passions.  Hopefully, I will share these along the way and how God has set these passions in ways that will honor and glorify Him.

Pursuing Passions

What about you?  What are your passions and how are you using those to achieve goals or glorify God?

Confessions of a Liturgical Failure

Liturgical Living

So, I failed Lent.  Again.  I know that Lent isn’t really something you can fail.  I know the intentions of Lent are for personal reflection, humility, and prayer.  And I know that I failed.

My goals for Lent were pretty simple, or so I thought.  I have gone all out before and then that causes pressure and problems because you spend so much time on the things that you forget what it is really supposed to be about.  I’ve done it that way before so I have tried to keep it super simple in the last couple of years.  And I have failed.

My goals this year were to spend some time each day or as often as I could in reflective prayer, read 2 chapters a day of a gospel, and family readings from Thomas Merton’s Lent & Easter Wisdom.  There were a few other things, but these were the main focus.

I did well on the reflective prayer for a week or so.  I used the time that I commuted to work to just sit in silence and listen to whatever God had to tell me.  More often than not, I got distracted.  When I wasn’t distracted, our current one-car-family status and the fact that Nathan often had to drive me to work precluded the practice.

I slipped up on the family readings.  Our lives just haven’t been conducive to this kind of regularity and I didn’t plan and wasn’t intentional.

Reading the gospels was probably the one I was most successful with, but that was marginal, too.  I did make it all the way through Luke and Mark and over halfway through Matthew.  There were a few days where the reading was just something to do because I knew I was supposed to.  However, there were many days where I was thoroughly blessed from the day’s reading.

So, since Lent for me was such a spectacular failure, what did I learn?  Well, a lot of grace.  I learned that I need to be okay with failing something.  Not that I never fail, but, man, I am NOT good at it.  At all.  I tend to beat myself up repeatedly.  But not this year.  I failed.  I did not accomplish the goals that I set out, but that’s okay.  I’ll move on and try to do better from here on out.

I also learned perseverance.  After almost two weeks without doing our Merton reading, I still picked up the book and read a couple days’ worth.  Then tried to make it through the Holy Week readings.  Neither one caught, but I didn’t give up until the end, even though I still failed.  But that’s okay because now we can use the Merton book next year and I can save a little money.

Because I will still work toward observing Lent again next year.  I may have failed a bit this year, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll just throw up my hands and relent.  No, I will keep going.  I will continue to try to observe spiritual disciplines and to observe the Liturgical Calendar where I can.

What about you?  Did you do anything special for Lent or Eastertide?  Are you a #liturgicalfailure just like me?  Let me know!

A Holy Pause and Reflection…

Holy Week

Last week was Holy week.  I know that I’ve mentioned before but I’m a non-liturgical so my church doesn’t really observe anything formally.  Our pastor enjoys the liturgical calendar, but there’s not much in the way of corporate liturgy.  However, in a blessed coincidence, our denominational conference was last week and we were in church almost every day.

I didn’t do well on Lent this year.  I’ll speak more about that on Wednesday.  However, I did notice that I felt like my intentions were pulled in several directions.  I had all of these great intentions, but very little follow through.  Yet that wasn’t true for Holy Week.  I actually had little by way of intentions and so follow through wasn’t a problem.

It didn’t help that we had an abnormal amount of friends in town for the conference and we had decided that since we now live so close, we’d just commute rather than spending the money on a hotel room.  So, basically, I functioned on around 3-5 hours of sleep a night.  It was a difficult week, but as I sit now I can see how blessed it was.

But to really do a reflection justice, I have to go back a bit further.  Specifically to Tuesday, 15 March.  You see, on this day, our pastor and his dear wife gave birth to their third child.  Because of this wondrous, miraculous event, my husband was asked to teach on Wednesday, 16 March.  He decided to do a lesson on a brief history from Luke leading up to Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  It set things up nicely for our friend who was the guest preacher for that Sunday, 20 March (Palm Sunday).

Both of these lessons together brought out a few great aspects of the passion that I hadn’t spent a lot of time on (mainly the crucifixion as a coronation for Jesus’ Kingship).  With this in mind and heart, we went into our conference.  There were missions reports on Tuesday, but the real classes start on Wednesday, which also happens to be “Holy Wednesday” or “Spy Wednesday.”

For our conference, the preachers, pastors, and missionaries meet and have classes and the spouses will meet and have a fellowship and a few classes as well.  The main impetus for Holy Wednesday is the celebration of the anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary.  I’ve spoken a bit about how I’m learning to worship like Mary, giving my all and my most valued to Jesus.  Our class on Wednesday was about being still in a world of noise, so I decided then that I wouldn’t worry about blog posts or social media or anything outside of what I was doing right then.

Our theme verse for the Ladies' Fellowship

Our theme verse for the Ladies’ Fellowship

Thursday night is always special at our conference because they have a large worship service that night and the ministers elect the speaker.  This year we had a brother who was native Jamaican speaking.  Yet, I kept thinking about the fact that it was Maundy Thursday, the day that commemorates Jesus’ last meal with His disciples.  We were blessed to have a meal with a dear brother that evening and we also had several hours of fellowship that evening.

Good Friday marked the end of the conference and I’ll admit that we were pretty tired.  It was definitely bittersweet.  The classes were great all week, but the ending prayer and benediction for the week was blessed above and beyond.  That evening we met friends for dinner and then went back to the church to fellowship with a few of the families that we rarely get to see.

On Saturday, the conference was over.  We were done and most of our friends were leaving.  We had to get up early and go pick up our son from his grandparents.  Life as normal was to return after this wonderful experience and mountaintop time.  Added in was the fact that I had to work that evening.  We were doing a special event to spread awareness about the Persecuted Church.  Sorrowful Saturday, indeed.

Resurrection Sunday, we met at church for a special breakfast, but there was a heaviness that seemed to permeate the event.  It carried all the way through our communion service and didn’t quite break until after our pastor declared with fervor, “He is Risen!”  To which those of us who knew replied, “He is Risen, Indeed!”  It was a wonderful service.  I truly enjoyed walking through the entirety of the gospel from a fellowship of brethren to crucifixion to the resurrection to the Kingdom all in one morning.

So, in the end, I didn’t quite observe in the traditional ways.  I did let the world and busyness get in the way of focusing on Jesus.  But I did take a bit of time on Sunday and reflect on what all had gone on this week and how even when I wasn’t looking, Jesus permeated my life.  He showed Himself and His values throughout my week.

What about you?  How were you blessed this past week?  What does Holy Week mean to you?

Five Friday Favorites: Bible Stories

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I love a good story.  My beginning as a writer started with me writing down the stories that I would create.  It’s always been a favorite pastime to lose myself in a really good story.  I think everyone yearns for this a little bit.  It’s why a good book or movie or tv show will draw us in.

I think this is one of the reasons why God chose to reveal Himself in stories.  Even though the Bible is full of real accounts of real people, they are still sometimes told in narrative format.

My favorite stories are always changing, usually based on what attribute of God I need that day.  However, I do have a few steady candidates that hold special places in my heart.  Here are just a few of the ones that I wanted to share today:

1.)  The Seven Sons of Sceva, Acts 19:11-20 – Never heard of this one?  Well, you’re probably not alone and it probably won’t make many people’s lists of top bible stories, but it’s a notable one in our house.  When my son was little and adults at church asked for the kids favorite bible stories, most children would say Noah or Jonah, but not our little one.  No, he preferred this exorcism-laced story from Acts.  To paraphrase the story, there were 7 sons of a high priest named Sceva who were casting out demons.  Unfortunately, one day they happen upon a demon that talks back.  After they command the demon out “in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches,”  the demon replied, “Jesus I know and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”  Then the demon leaps on them and bad things happen.  Not exactly a heart-warming children’s tale, but I think the combination of the strong admonition of not invoking the Lord’s name in vain and the Hubs using his vocal skills made it a favorite for our little guy.

2.)  Mary Anoints Jesus, John 12:1-8 – This is a favorite among many.  There are songs and stories about it.  There may even be a movie about it.  I haven’t felt a particular affinity for it until my pastor recently preached from this text last Sunday leading into Holy Week.  Though other gospels tell the story, too; this one is especially sweet to me.  Pastor spoke on the different types of worship (there are 4 in this passage).  But I love the beauty that is shown in Mary’s worship as she smashes the bottle containing the most expensive, important thing she owns and pours it onto our Lord, wiping the excess with her hair.  I cannot imagine this scene and do it justice, but when I think on it, I am greatly moved by this act and can only hope that I am following in this example.

3.)  The Commander of the Lord’s Army, Joshua 5:13-15 – It’s a short story, just a few verses, really.  But it is one that I have come back to time and again.  Joshua has just led the people into Canaan.  They have just been circumcised and observed the first Passover in Canaan.  They were about to take Jericho when Joshua sees someone with his sword drawn.  We don’t know if Joshua was scared, but we do know he was bold as he asks, “Are you for us, or for our enemies?”  And I LOVE the answer.  The commander simply says, “No.”  The commander was for the Lord.  Shouldn’t that be our answer for everything?  What is your opinion on this hot-button political issue?  No, I’m for the Lord.  What is your opinion on this divisive cultural issue?  No, I’m for the Lord.  Is the dress blue and black or white and gold? No. No. No.

4.) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel 3:8-30 – This is another common Sunday School story of standing up against idolatry, right?  If you’re into the VeggieTales version, it’s about standing up against the Bunny.  And I do love this aspect of it.  We live in a world of idols; indeed, John Calvin said that our very hearts are idol factories.  However, there’s a little piece to this story that is often overlooked.  Specifically verses 16-18.  Nebuchadnezzar has just asked the young men about their failure to bow down and worship.  Then they answer.  “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Italics added)  They are facing a king (little ‘k’) and they flat out tell him that they don’t have to answer.  Furthermore, the King they do serve, well, He is able, but that’s not what’s important.  No, what is important to them is that they are going to serve Him regardless.  Whew!  It doesn’t get much better than that.

5.)  Jesus, the WHOLE of Scripture – You can call this a copout, but I can’t help it.  It’s something I’m learning, even more, every day.  There is not one single part of this entire work where I can’t see Jesus.  How amazing is that?  How amazing is our God?  I love the fact that He asks us to meet Him and learn about Him in this way.  Jesus called His followers disciples, students, and gave us a book to learn about Him.  For a book nut, life-long learner, and word nerd like me, that is the most awesome thing ever!  If we don’t look at the Bible as a whole, then we will often miss things like this.  And that would be a real tragedy.

So, what about you?  What is God showing you through Scripture?  Don’t forget to head over to Mrs. Disciple to check out what others are sharing as their favorite bible stories/characters.

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Spring: A Reminder of the Life Abundant

I’ve always been a fall girl.  I love the clothes and the weather.  There’s just something about sitting around a bonfire with friends that just moves me.  Hoodies and hot chocolate are my jam.  Pumpkin spice everything + apples = my happy place.

So imagine how excited I was when I found out we were moving to New England (this was around 7 years ago?).  I’ve heard about fall in New England my entire life.  When people look at fall pics they are almost always from the Northeast.  And we ended up moving around the end of November.

We’d missed the fun season.  We got snow almost straight away.  It was a difficult winter.  There was so much snow.  We had two trees in our yard that were beyond dead.  Pretty much everywhere I looked was just dead trees and bushes.  I don’t mean dormant for winter, I mean dead.

So imagine my surprise when the cold weather blew away and we began to see the first signs of spring.  There were a few bushes that got a few light green buds, then a few trees that started to sprout some little leaves.  Day by day I saw these things that I thought were beyond gone show life.  Day by day I saw that life continue to grow and become vibrant.

Those early light green buds turned into gorgeous golden blooms.  Those little leaves continued to get bigger and bigger and turned into the most beautiful deep green I’ve ever seen.  As spring progressed, almost everything that I had written off during the winter sprang to life.  And it didn’t stop.

It continued to evolve throughout the entire season.  What may have started out as white flowers on a green bush quickly went through various stages and ended up as pink flowers on a pale green bush.  It was amazing how the colors never stopped.  It was such an amazing sight to see after a long hard winter.

It was such an amazing thing to see life, abundant, beautiful life, spring from these items that I once had thought were completely dead.

Daffodils in Spring

Daffodils making an appearance in the park in TN last spring.

It will always stay with me as a reminder of what God can do.  And has done in me.  He took me from a completely spiritually dead place and gave me life, abundant life, in Him.

So now, even though I’m still a fall girl, I look forward to spring and that beautiful reminder of what God has done and continues to do in me.

Five Friday Favorites: Easter

  

Ham. Hats. Family photos. A new dress. Pastel colors. Bunnies. Baby chicks. Brightly colored eggs. Special church services. Baskets toppling over with goodies.

These are just a few ways that we celebrate Easter in America. My earliest memories of the holiday are of getting a special new dress, often with a matching hat and gloves. My mom and dad would go to church with us and then we’d go to my grandma’s for a special dinner with all the family. Perhaps you grew up celebrating in the same way?

All of the things I listed above are commonplace in most of the churches that you will go to on Easter Sunday. You may even already be planning for it. Buying your egg dye and shopping for matching outfits for the kids (or in my case, color coordinating clothes for me, Chas, and NGD).

What I find interesting is that you may also find these celebrations outside of the church as well. There are a lot of people who don’t go to church who may be celebrating in much the same way. Special dinners with family and new clothes. They may even have an egg hunt.

The difference is that those of us who go to church first will hear the Truth before we go have our ham dinner and watch the kids run around the yard seeking their goodies. Some may even hunt for Resurrection Eggs (special plastic eggs that contain items pertaining to the Passion of Christ) instead of the traditional colored hard boiled ones.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing these festivities. Whereas most of them do have their beginnings in paganism, there are many who still celebrate in this way with the best of intentions. If your kids are counting down the days until the Easter Bunny visits, please do not feel condemnation here. You haven’t doomed your children to the fires of hell simply by buying them a hollow chocolate bunny.

However, I would like to ask you to think about a few things this Easter season:

1.) Mind – What are you thinking about as this holiday approaches? Are you consumed with dressing up your kids in adorable outfits? Are you thinking about the perfect side dish to take to your in-laws for Easter dinner? Are you thinking about what you are going to fill up your littles’ baskets with?

Instead of being consumed with this part of the holiday, spend a little time in the Word and read about Jesus. It only takes a few minutes to read the last week of Jesus’ life in most of the gospels. Only a few more to read it from each of the gospels. Look to God’s Holy Word and see what He has new for you this Easter. And then share it.

2.) Heart – Where is your heart concerning Easter? Do you look at it as just another holiday on the calendar? Is it something special?

Spend some time as Easter approaches and think about the resurrection in your own life. Think about Jesus dying on the cross for YOU, but don’t forget the victorious nature of His resurrection.

3.) Soul – Do you know Jesus? Know Him personally? Do you know Him as Savior? Does his resurrection fill you with hope?

If you don’t know Jesus personally then this is a great time to meet Him. If you do, then you may want to take some time and assess your spiritual life. Are you living an abundant life in the victory of Jesus’ resurrection or are you just barely getting by?

4.) Strength – How are you worshipping? Are you merely going to church because that’s what you do on Easter? Or are you actually going to celebrate the victory of the resurrection?

We’re blessed every day that we draw breath. So, what are you doing with that breath? Every moment we should be glorifying God. Don’t waste the day with the busyness of tasks that don’t do that.

5.) Grace – None of us are getting this perfect. And Jesus didn’t die to condemn us but to give us life. Ultimately, He is what’s it’s all about. That’s what we have to keep in perspective. So, no matter what you do to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, just keep it about Him. Remember to give yourself grace for your failings and to give other’s grace, too. We’re all just trying to do the best we can wherever we are in this walk of faith.

Now it’s your turn. What does Easter mean to you? How do you celebrate? Don’t forget to head over to Mrs. Disciple and check out what everyone else is saying about this special holiday.

Five Friday Favorites: Obstacles

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“You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains.  You will find a fortune though it will not be the one you seek.  But first… first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril.  Mmm-hmmm.  You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell.  You shall see a… a cow… on the roof of a cotton house… ha.  And, oh, so many startlements.  I cannot tell you how long the road shall be… but fear not the obstacles in your pathfor fate has vouchsafed your reward.  Though the road may wind, yes, your hearts gone weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation.”

– Seer’s speech, O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

 

I’ll admit.  This is one of my favorite movies.  Also, I can’t think of obstacles without thinking of this speech from the beginning of this interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey.  As the seer tells the travelers that they will face “ob-sta-cles.”

It’s pretty much a given that we’ll face obstacles.  Just as we clear one, another gets moved into our path.  It’s enough to knock us down on the regular and if we aren’t careful, then those obstacles can actually keep us stuck in the same place.

So, the question then becomes how do you overcome these obstacles?  As a part of this week’s linkup at Mrs. Disciple, I’d like to spend a little time talking about 5 Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles:

1.) Being Self-Aware and Introspective – There are times when we are encountering obstacles and we don’t even realize it.  We’re so busy battling other things that we don’t even notice what is right in front of us.  The best way to deal with that is to know yourself.  After all, that is who you spend most of your time with.  It’s not always easy to be introspective; sometimes there are hurts that run deep and make it difficult to really be open.  However, if you can’t be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?

2.) Know Your Enemy and their strategies – Not all of our obstacles are of the natural variety.  Sometimes they are custom variety, made especially to knock us down.  The adversary and our natural flesh will seek to destroy us if we aren’t careful.  I love the part of the Armor of God Bible study by Priscilla Shirer where she encourages you to gain “actionable intel” on the enemy.  That is the best way we can battle.  We must be aware of ourselves, but we must also know what is going on outside of us.

3.)  Pray – This one is pretty obvious, but it is still one that is worth mentioning.  The best way we can gain strength is by calling on the one who is our strength.  Prayer is great for changing our hearts, but it also lets us tap into strategies #1 and #2.  Through prayer, we are able to know ourselves better and we are able to gain knowledge and help to defeat those obstacles that are put in our path by our adversary.

4.)  Ask for help – It is tempting when we see an obstacle in our path to believe the lie that we must overcome it on our own.  I’ll admit that this is one that I especially struggle with.  I hate asking for help.  But God has continually been working on me and helping me to see that He has put people directly in my life to help with certain obstacles that are popping up around me.  And when all else fails, we know that He is our biggest help in times of need.

5.)  Persevere – It’s easy to get knocked down in this life.  It’s even easier to stay knocked down.  That isn’t what we’re called to, however.  We are called to run our race with endurance.  We can’t let getting knocked down from time to time (because that will happen) shut us down.  We also can’t grow weary in running.  If we weary running with men, how will we run with horses? (Jeremiah 12:5)  We have to be diligent and intentional so that we can persevere to the end.

By way of accountability and also in the vein of obstacles, the hubs and I are considering signing up for a mud run, which is basically a 5K full of muddy obstacles.  It doesn’t just work like a normal 5K though, you aren’t just trying to get a phenomenal time, you are working through the obstacles in a quick pace.  The idea is that you get a team together and your work together to overcome these obstacles.

There are some mud runs that are so tough that all of the participants work together to overcome them.  If this works out and we are able to compete, I will be employing these strategies to help because they don’t just work with spiritual obstacles, they also work with the real physicals ones, too.

What obstacles are you facing?  How are you coping with them?  Make sure to stop into the linkup at Mrs. Disciple and read what others are saying about obstacles.

  

Five Friday Favorites: Names of God

Five

Honey.  Mom.  Stac.  Friend.  Ed.  Sister. These are a few of the names that I answer to on a regular basis.  There are several more.  Some are used daily and some are used only on special occasions.  Each one is used in specific circumstances or by specific people to denote a certain aspect of my character – what makes me, me.

The same is true for God.  As we get to know more and more about Him, we learn different parts of His character.  As we learn these, we learn different names to call Him in different situations, what to call out when we have a specific need.  Today, as part of the linkup with mrsdisciple.com I want to explore a few of the many names of God.

Here are 5 Names of God and what they mean to me:

1.) El Roi – This name is used in Genesis when Hagar is mistreated by Sarah and runs away.  As Hagar takes her son and flees, completely distraught, God comes to her.  The name she uses is El Roi, which means “The God who Sees.”  I love this name because just like Hagar, there  are times when I feel like I am all alone.  I feel like my afflictions are completely mine alone to deal with, but they aren’t.  I’m not alone.  I have a God who sees me.  I have a God who sees what is going on with me and knows what I am going through in every detail.

2.) Jehovah Jireh – “God provides” is one of the more known names of God.  I find it especially comforting.  God knows my need and he provides for each and every one of them.  It doesn’t matter what is going on in my life, God will provide.

3.)  Adonai – a name that usually denotes the OT name for Jesus.  It translates to Lord and Master.  It is special for me because you have to know Jesus as Lord before you can really know Him as anything else.  You must let Him have complete rule and reign of your life.

4.) El Elyon – God Most High.  One of the most majestic names for our God.  I love the imagery that this name evokes.  I love the perspective that it gives me when I acknowledge my God as Most High.  It helps me to know my place and trust Him more and more.

5.)  Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my Banner.  When all seems lost and I’m not feeling very victorious I like to think of this name.  In battle, each army have their banners that they fly acknowledging their force.  When I feel like I am failing, I just need to look at Jehovah Nissi and know that the Lord is my banner and flies over me.  He is my victory.

There are many resources to learn about the names of God, first and foremost is just by reading your Bible.  Most will have the names of God highlighted or you can get a really great study Bible to help.  Also make sure you head over to the linkup at mrsdisciple.com to see what everyone else is saying about the Names of God.

5 Names of God

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