Thursday, March 21, 2013

Getting Away

Sometimes there are days where God just calls me away.

Days that He calls me into His heart, to just be. And in the midst of a crazy, sometimes chaotic schedule in the past few weeks, when Jesus called my heart away, I gladly went. 

I thought I would just spend some time around the house, praying and reading. But he called me out of the house, out of the city. He put Stone Mountain on my heart, so I hopped in the car and headed towards the park. The sun was shining, it was gorgeous. First gift to my heart from Jesus.

Once I arrived at the park, I felt like I could just breath. 

I found a quiet spot, opened my journal and began to draw, taking in inspiration from my surroundings. The majestic granite mountain towered above me, complete with civil war figures carved into the side. The trees are just beginning to bloom, and white buds framed the carving just so. 

I sat in the stillness for a while, and contemplated the statue and quotes before me. This one stuck out the most to me, complete with the figure stretching his arms towards the heaven. It speaks of Valor, courage, and it stirred my spirit with delight. 

After my time in the park, I drove around looking for somewhere for lunch. I found a coffee shop that I wanted to settle into later, and figured that I would find a place for lunch around there. So I drove to Decatur, and right across the street from the coffee shop was an amazing little Indian food place. 

I absolutely love Indian food, yet another gift from God. All of the colors and pictures in the restaurant just filled my heart with delight. There were even fresh flowers on the table.
From a tasty lunch I moved onto some more quiet time in the coffee shop across the street, and I received a beautiful, deliciously smooth latte. I was able to talk to some people back home, and just sit with God and feel His peace wash over me.

I could feel Him pouring out His love through all of the small details throughout the day, and it delighted my heart to know that He loves me so much to show that in the small things. 

In a vase of flowers on an Indian food restaurant.

In a expertly crafted latte, topped with silky foam.

In flowering trees.

In the sunshine.

In gently chirping birds.

In colorful pictures.

In sweet music. 

In sketches.

In covered bridges.

In geese playing in the water. 

In being able to cook dinner.

God delighted my heart in the simple things of life that day, and it was beautiful. What are the little things in life that God has put in front of you today?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Physical Words

Last Friday afternoon our Center for Global Action group sat around the living room, listening to our teacher Gary share with us about spiritual gifts.

Little did I know my mind was about to be seriously blown.

Gary announced that we would be doing an activity on the power of words in our lives.

You know that old saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? Well let's go ahead and throw that saying out the window right now.

Words have immense power in our lives, both positive and negative. Who doesn't love to have positive things said to them and about them? Similarly, isn't it crushing to hear negative things spoken to you or about you? No matter how much we say "words never hurt me" the reality is, they do, whether we realize it in the moment or not.

Going forward in our activity, Gary had one of our classmates, Chase, come to the front of the classroom, extend his arm out to the side, and hold it up while Gary pushed down as hard as he could on it.

Gary told Chase to think of something positive about himself, just in his head. While Chase had that thought in his head, Gary pushed down on his arm. He could not push it down, and told us that it was in fact stronger than the first time.

He had Chase raise his arm again, but this time, to think of something negative about himself, something he didn't like. He pushed down on Chase's arm.

His arm came down. There was a physical response to the negative thoughts in Chase's mind.

We tried the exercise again, but this time, Gary spoke positive, encouraging words to Chase about him, while he pushed down on Chase's arm. He couldn't push it down, Chase's arm stayed up and firm.

Then, he said that he was going to talk about Chase's shirt, and say something negative about it (just to demonstrate negative words). He spoke it out while he pushed down on Chase's arm. Almost immediately, it fell to his side as Gary pushed down.

I was shocked. But at the same time, it was making sense. Negative words and positive words create physical responses in our bodies.

Gary had us all stand up and do the exercise with a partner, going through the thoughts within our own head, and then having someone speak words over us. As I participated in the activity, I was astounded. My arm stayed up during the positive thoughts and words, but fell and was weaker under the negative words, and the same with my partner.

What an incredible visual to the power of words in our lives.

It definitely makes you pause and think about the charge that Christ gives us to take our thoughts captive. Not only because what is in our thoughts and hearts will outpour into our lives through words, but because it creates physical and spiritual responses in our bodies.

Recently I joined Triumph Fitness, a group of us that gets together every morning during the week for a cross-fit style workout at the Adventures in Missions office. God has opened my mind to bringing the spiritual into the physical, literally into our workouts.

I began to think about how even negative thoughts during our exercises could effect what I was physically doing. If I think in my head "oh, I can't do this," I'm already setting myself up for failure, and weakening myself, literally.

But if I lean on Christ, cry out to him for the literal strength I need to challenge myself while working out, I am filled with his strength, spiritually, and physically. This revelation has stretched me and grown me already.

And it applies to everything.

Praising God in the storms.

Speaking life and joy into situations where things are difficult.

Pressing into the joy, into the heart of God, and realizing the power of the words we speak, and even more, the thoughts we think. We can effect our lives in big ways when we take our thoughts captive.

Probably why Jesus emphasized it so much.

I know that I am now challenged to take my thoughts captive even more, and recognize the physical and spiritual effects of the words I say and think.

What thoughts do you need to take captive today? What way can you bring God into your every day moments and situations? How can you bring life into it?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lost Car Keys

If you have ever misplaced something important, you'll understand the panic that fluttered around my heart this morning.

The day started off much like any typical day, well, except for oversleeping. But, it's Friday, I thought, it's alright. I got dressed, ready to tackle the plans I had made for the day. I was going to work outside of the office, maybe get my oil changed in my car, and enjoy this beautiful Friday.

I headed quietly downstairs early in the morning, excited to get a jump start on my day. I put my bags onto the kitchen table, securing everything and went to grab my car keys.

Only they weren't where I put them. They were gone.

I thought oh, maybe I forgot to clip them onto my purse and they're on the floor in my room. My mood mostly unchanged, I head back upstairs to get my keys off the floor. I walk into the room, and search the floor. And search. And search.

My car keys are nowhere to be found.

Now, I start getting concerned. I begin looking through all the places that my car keys could even possibly be, my workout backpack, no. The kitchen table? No. The dining room table? No. Remote, obscure places on the floor? No. In my clothes? No. Still in the car? No.

I wracked my brain, trying to retrace my steps from when I drove home from work Wednesday night. I even went out to the car to see if I left them in there. Nope. Now I was getting flustered. I have no spare key, and really don't have the money to rekey my car. I had absolutely no idea where they could be.

I began praying, praying for peace, knowing that God knew where they were.

I called my roommate, wondering if she had seen them. Then I thought to ask if she would check the office to see if they somehow ended up there, maybe falling out of my backpack.

Waiting sure is hard sometimes. I felt at a loss, not knowing where in the world my keys could be.

Finally, I got the text, my keys were found! Indeed, they must have fallen out of my backpack onto the couch at the office.

My heart heaved a sigh of relief.

But then something funny happened. My heart started to throw a little pity party for itself. All those plans I had made for the day, down the drain. I was going to get some errands done, and get work done. It was going to be a great productive day.

Now, I was stuck at home, my car here with me, my keys at the office. Great.

I had to stop and ask myself, why am I getting upset about this? It is so inconsequential. My car keys are found. I made myself a cup of coffee and settled in for some much needed quiet time with Jesus after a hectic morning of not knowing where my keys went.

I sat and soaked in the morning sun, looking out onto the shining lake, rippling against the gentle wake of the morning breeze. I stopped and took a breath. Processed. I was disappointed because my expectations for the day were not met.

But, I asked myself, doesn't God always have my best in mind? Doesn't he always have a plan? Am I willing to be interrupted in my life, willing to be interrupted by my Father when He calls me away into the quiet of His heart, even when it "interferes" with my already made plans?

Am I willing to be interrupted by God?

I sat and thought, and realized my heart was warming. Yes. I may not have been in the moment, but oh was I ready for him to interrupt this morning and see what He had. And He showed up and spoke to my heart in a very unique way. One that I may have missed if I had had my car keys this morning.

In a moment of disruption, God had peace. And I found the joy to thank him for everything in that moment, that I even had a car to lose keys to, and, that those keys were found.

Thank you Lord, for lost car keys.

What quiet moment is God calling you into today? Are you willing to have your schedule interrupted by God for that moment with Him?