Switch It Up

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I took a new path on my walk the other day and discovered this playful art. I tend to take the same route when I walk because it’s comfortable and known. But this time I heard God whisper, “It’s ok if you have never gone this way. You discover new things when you step outside your routine.”

The unknown is scary but we have to try it sometimes to seek a fresh view. That fresh view can help us discover God’s incredible peace in the midst of a mighty storm, grace in a hostile situation and joy when not even a glimmer of light seems to be hiding in the corners of our world.

Like me, maybe your Bible study, prayer life, quiet time or spiritual meditation has gotten a little too routine. Is it time to switch it up? To open your eyes to something new the Lord has for you?

Some ideas: Buy a new study Bible or Bible translation, go on a prayer walk, create a picture/drawing to go along with the scripture you are studying, do a Bible study from an author you have never read before, cook food from the Bible stories you are studying (Food At the Time of the Bible or The Food and Feasts of Jesus), take an online class (https://www.beadisciple.com), listen to the Bible instead of reading it, get 3 or 4 women together once a week for a walk and discuss a passage of scripture or simply begin journaling each day where you saw God at work in your life that day.

Let me know what you try! I pray God will honor our obedience and awaken our souls with His presence and wisdom.

 

 

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!

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Over the summer, I experienced an overwhelming feeling to slow down and let go of some responsibilities I had taken on. I needed more margin in my life – AGAIN. I go through phases like this. I simplify for a while, then slowly begin to take on more and more until I reach critical mass and have to start all over again.

My body, mind and spirit were sending up a flare. And honestly, I wonder how long God had been nudging at my heart and trying to get my attention before I finally noticed?

I talked about what I could let go of and walk away from. I thought about it too, but it didn’t feel as if I was making any progress. My desire to enter into a deeper more meaningful relationship with God was still on my heart and tugging at me inwardly, but I couldn’t tell if anything had changed on the outside.

Then I read this:

“The experience of awakening can become so fragile and crystal thin at this point [the point when we realize we need God front and center again], we are likely to look right through it and see nothing.” Sue Monk Kidd

I had been looking right into this awakening and had not even taken notice of how my slowing down process had begun. . . Just in a way I didn’t expect or realize.

I loved this imagery and decided to seek it out in God’s creation this week. This is what He gave me.

I pray that we all become more in tune and responsive to God’s whispers, nudges and presence as we embark on a new season (fall). May we “be still and know” more of Him, His ways and His love for us with each passing day. And even if His presence in our lives is so tender and light right now, we can’t recognize He is there, may we find peace and comfort in knowing we will recognize His footprint later if not now.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

When the Same Old, Same Old is a Good Thing

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Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

I wasn’t sure what the exact message from this image was going to be, but I knew it was meant to be captured, pondered and meditated on. It has been life-giving to begin finding God not just in circumstances and in words, but in my every day surroundings.

Seeing these two beautiful butterflies sipping the tiny bit of water they could find on a scorching day, by our trash on the street, created such a grand contrast. Maybe it’s from my ministry and work at the church combined with having two teenage children, but things in this world seem so messy, complicated and challenging. Sometimes, I think we can become so overwhelmed with the mess we face that the burden seems as if it might break us.

It can feel lonely, as if we are the only ones facing the giants of the day. We can lose the sense that God is even with us and the noise of worry, busyness, fear and isolation overtakes His tender and gentle presence. I think if we are honest, we will even admit that we sometimes think He has stopped talking to us.

I have certainly expressed the desire for God to speak to me the same way He did in the Old Testament. “I might be able to discern what to do faster if He would speak to me from a burning bush (Exodus 3), float around before me everyday as a cloud so I would know which way He wanted me to go (Numbers 14), send a dove (Genesis 8), speak from the clouds (Matthew 3:17), send some angels (all through the Bible), or prophets like Zechariah.” I would say exasperated.

But God hasn’t stopped speaking to us. He has proven that to me over the past several weeks in my exercise to seek Him in the world around me . . . His world. I think our hearts and minds have gotten more cluttered and we don’t find the time to sit quietly and seek Him.

It’s us that have changed . . . Not God!

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8 (HSB)

As I’ve taken more time to be alone with God outside I’ve found His pulse running through everything. When we seek Him, His gentle nudges become clearer, we sense His heart beating within our own pulling ours closer to Him, and His still small voice becomes one that we desire to hear above any other.

There are days my heart and soul feel as dry and thirsty as these two butterflies. Days I’m seeking His living water wherever I can possibly find it because I feel lost in a dry and weary landscape. And if I stop, slow down and linger, there He is . . . In a song, a sunset, scripture on my wall, the smile of a stranger, a quick prayer lifted up in carpool or the tears of a friend grieving their child’s mistakes.

God is with us! He has not left us. He is still speaking to us. God doesn’t need the hearing aids, we do.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

You Have Never Been This Way

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In Joshua 3:3-4 God basically says to the Israelites, follow the ark of the covenant but don’t get to close to it so you can see which way to go because . . . you have never been this way before.

. . . giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua 3:3-4

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I’ve been sensing this theme in my day-to-day. I’m in a new stage of life with aging parents, two teenagers, my firstborn looking at colleges and the reality that she will begin her life away from us in just two short years. These are all new things (new paths) and I’ve never been this way before. It was as if this tender reminder from God in Joshua 3 was highlighted in neon, flashing and in font seven times bigger than the other text. 


I had no idea how these things were weighing on me until I began to process this scripture through a walk. I’m so grateful for God’s tender lessons and ways because the tears that stream down my face as I type are tears of acknowledgment, understanding, and trust that God is with me and not of fear and trepidation. Tears of understanding that this is just a new way and it doesn’t have to be a scary or overwhelming way,
just a new way and God is with me.

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I can hear His tender whisper, “
You have never been this way before, so follow me Allison and I will show you the way. But remember to step back (reflect and listen) so you know what is ahead because I will show and prepare you.” Through my pictures, you will see a close up of a rocky path (1st picture) that God used to illustrate how difficult it is to know where you are going if you don’t stop to look up and ahead with an abiding trust and faith of the path before you (2nd picture). However, if we look ahead we can prepare for the fork in the road, the change of terrain, obstacles and even beauty that lies before us. I am in awe of how taking this scripture and putting it into a visual deepened my understanding and the power of it. 

This week, maybe you will feel led to do the same. I would love to hear about your experience if you do. God has been teaching me so much through quiet walks. I’m learning how the intricacies of His Word tie into His creation in stunning ways.

Seed and Soil

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This is a picture I captured this morning when I went out to my garden. Clearly the seeds of this flower had taken root in fertile soil to produce this beautiful flower, but that does not always happen.

While reading and reflecting on Mark 4:1-20 this week, I was reminded of when Jesus compared His Word to the seeds that a farmer scatters around his land. However, the outcome (or fruit produced) depends on the ground in which the seed falls.

I realized that there have been times in my life that I’ve fallen into every one of the categories mentioned. George Guthrie describes them so well here:

Seed on the path: the thud of a hard-packed heart

Seed in rocky soil: the withering of a shallow heart

Seed in thorny soil: the congestion of a weed-choked heart

Seed in good soil: the productivity of a receptive heart

What soil do you relate to right now?

I’m thankful for each person, experience, challenge, and opportunity for growth the Lord has given me on my journey so far. . . .I’ve come a long way. . . . A very long way, but still have so far to go.

It occurred to me, that growing in that grace and knowledge of Christ is a formula that consists of a few things.

One, understanding, accepting and realizing my journey to live more like Christ will never be complete is essential to continued growth. Without that understanding and acceptance, I would grow frustrated, weary and defeated. Two, if I don’t extend myself grace when I have set backs I will become discouraged and distance myself from God. Three, continued growth won’t happen without a daily connection to His living Word. And four, never stop looking for ways for God’s Word to come alive.

What step are you struggling with today?

1. I need to accept learning about God and being more Christlike will never be perfected in my life here.

2. I need to give myself a little grace when I don’t understand, follow through or feel a close connection with God.

3. I need to open up my Bible and read scripture.

4. I need to look for a new and creative way to seek God through the scriptures to awaken my heart and passion for Him (again).

Wherever you are today, I pray God places people in your path to encourage or teach you, that you feel His presence as you prayerfully approach Him for guidance and that He shows up and shows off for you in new and amazing ways.