Quiet your soul

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Sometimes the craziness of life can get us stirred up so much that we can’t hear the Lord.  We have to get quiet, we need quiet and peace.  But how do we get the quietness we need?  Life doesn’t stop.  The demands of family, work and etc will still call our names.  Emails, calendars, social media, and easy access to everything via our phones are very handy but can cause us to not have a minute to be calm and quiet.  Our soul can be like a rambunctious child wanting it’s way and we must learn to quiet it. We must learn to tell it to sit down & be quiet. What is the soul?  Dictionary.com says that it is “the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans…separate from the body”.  We have a spirit, soul and body.  Our soul is not our body and it is not our spirit, it is our mind, emotions and thoughts.

Yoga and meditation are popular buzz words right now.  But did you know that meditation is in the Bible?  Why would meditation be important enough to be in the Bible?  Focusing our mind on the Words of God is meditation.  Memorizing the scripture is meditation.  Thinking about the names of God is meditation.  Getting still, quiet and meditating will bring life to our spirits, our soul even our body.  “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want; He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul” Psalms 23:1-3 ESV.  “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yield its fruit in its season…and what he does prospers” Ps 1:2 & 3, ESV  “Truly my soul finds rest in God” Ps 62:1a NIV.

How do we do get our soul to calm down and be quiet?   One of the ways I calm my soul is to turn off my light in my bedroom, turn on calm worship music and begin to stretch.  It is a routine that tells my soul to quiet down.  It took only a few times to train my soul.  Now when I turn off the light my soul and body begin to tell me what time it is, it is time to invite the presence of the Lord.  I begin to be anxious to have these moments with my lover, Jesus.  During this time I like to listen to Grace Williams “Holy”, “Wait” or “Breathe”, these quiet meditative songs help me to turn my focus to Jesus.  I like to stretch  because it gets my body’s grumpiness out of the way while I begin to meditate.  If I don’t spend a few moments stretching then my body will fuss and complain and I have a hard time focusing.  I begin to meditate on a scripture.  Or I might lie face down and reflect on His holiness.  I might stand or kneel.  The position isn’t important. Sometimes I will spend the whole time quietly with the Lord and sometimes I read or listen to the Word.  There is no time limit or a certain amount that I have to read or do.  The goal is to listen to my spirit.  We were made for our spirits to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, it is our choice to listen or not.  If I discipline my soul to listen to my spirit then I hear His Spirit.  We make it so complex but the rules are simple.  Discipline yourself to get quiet before the Lord.  No rules of kneel for 50 minutes and then read for 30.  The goal is to allow the Holy Spirit to direct you.  He knows what He wants to say and what you need, He will focus you toward Jesus.  This blog began with the craziness of life.  Many days I don’t get to spend that precious time alone.  I have to steal moments of quiet time, in the kitchen while fixing dinner or a moment in the bathroom.  Any moment is precious when spent with the Lord.  And He is gracious to reward those times with His presence and He will multiply them.  Don’t get caught into the rules, get caught into a moment with the Holy Spirit, listening and allowing Him to direct your time. Try it. Quiet your soul.

Peace booties

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I find the armor of God fascinating.  We want to treat Ephesians 6 and the armor as things only certain people use or we use every once in awhile.  People who fight literal demons, they need the armor, not me.  In January my family joined our church and a lot of people in a 21 day Daniel fast.  My daughters children’s pastor asked the kids to say the Lord’s prayer and to put on the armor of God daily.  We did this every day with my girlie for 21 days and then continued it since then.  I began to meditate on the armor and what it means to me.  I am a caregiver.  Both parents have a form of dementia.  My dad has Alzheimer and it is progressing.  It can be exhausting.  I was talking with my sister about daily trying to walk in peace and the Lord dropped into my spirit an image of hospital booties, the kind a nurse or surgeon would put on.  They would just slip on top of my shoes.  Oh, so I put on the shoes of peace no matter what I am doing or dealing with.  Sometimes I am dealing with the medical type of issues, sometimes I am trying to calm situations down, sometimes I am having to run after him or my 4 year old, sometimes I am cooking, sometimes I am cleaning.  Whatever I am doing I must put on the shoes or booties of peace.  A lot of days I have to fight for peace.  See how I brought that around?  We have to fight to have the armor of God on daily in every situation.  This is our fight, to on purpose, put on the armor.  Every day we have to fight to put on the breast plate of righteousness or to live right on purpose.  Every day we have to fight to put on and keep on, the belt of truth, not to listen to lies.  Every day we have to pick up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  We have to fight to keep reading it and not be sidetracked by work, social media, TV, friends or whatever tries to trip us up and get us not to get into the Word.  Every day we have to choose to take up the shield of faith, to have faith in God and in His Word no matter what is thrown at us, spears of sickness, spears of lack and all the other things that we think about and have to fight against.  We have to trust the helmet of salvation to protect our minds and to get us to eternity.  We have to fight to have peace.  How do we fight to have peace?  Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) says “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You”.  That is a fight to keep our minds on Jesus Christ and to trust in Him in the middle of our crazy, distraction filled days.  But He says if you do this, then He will keep you in peace.  I don’t have to say, “ok, Genelle be peaceful now” and boom, I am at peace.  No that doesn’t work, I have to keep putting my mind on Jesus.  I have to think about Him and His goodness, I have to talk to Him, or play worship music.  Another way to fight to have peace is to as 1 Corinthians 14:4 says “edify yourself”.  People talk about you need to have “me time”  when you care for so many, but I say I need more Holy Spirit time.  “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” 1 Corinthians 14:4a.  Edify means to lift up.  It comes from a Latin word which means to erect a house.  Think about it, if you edify yourself it is like you are building your house, you are making yourself stronger.  I try to spend quiet time with worship music and do stretches, I even buy essential oils that help create calm but nothing can cause peace, like the presence of God.  It is time for us to fight to keep peace in our homes, jobs, relationships.  What type of shoes are you wearing, tennis shoes because you are so busy running here or there, or boxing boots because you are in a battle all the time?  Don’t forget to put on your peace booties, just pull them right on top of your stilettos and in every situation and let the Lord keep you in perfect peace.

WAIT!!

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It seems like one of the hardest things to do in this modern age is wait. To sit and wait. If you are like me you read your emails, take a book to the doctor’s office or play a game at the Motor Vehicle Department. I do not want to be left doing “nothing”. Every type of prayer is important, intercession for others, bring petitions to the Lord, warfare, praise, worship but how about waiting? What? I am supposed to just sit and be quiet? That’s not easy. It’s not easy in my life.
This morning as I was trying to sit quietly before the Lord, I was disturbed by thoughts of what is my 4 year old doing? What are my parents doing? I have dishes to do. I have a report to do! To sit calmly before the Lord, to keep your thoughts quiet, to be still and WAIT on Him, it isn’t easy? That is when we have to be determined. Is it important? It is important to calm your thoughts and say “not now, do not jump up to take care of…” Those moments of resting before the Lord are necessary. Those moments are beautiful and peaceful. That is when He takes you unaware into His presence. One moment you are fighting thoughts of getting on with the day and the next moment you are weeping and you don’t even know why. His presence has entered the room. He has blessed you because you waited. As much as I treasure those moments I still find it hard to wait. I guess it’s human nature. I must discipline myself to wait. It doesn’t come naturally. But I must WAIT. Can you WAIT?

Inhale gospel, exhale grace

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So i have had a hard time sitting down to write lately. The truth be known i had just gotten into my own funk. You know the one, everything in my life stinks. If you get caught up in that its like muck, or quicksand. The harder you try to get out of it the thicker it gets. I really had to give myself a good talking to, to snap out of it, but not before i was sitting in a parking lot crying.

My life is not any harder than yours or my trials bigger.  We all have difficulties.  I had just, as i said, got caught up in my own funk, gunk, muck whatever you want to call it.  I had just finished putting the groceries in the truck, jumped in and glanced at my wedding ring which looked strange, I had lost my diamond.  I had a flood of thoughts, “hmm I wonder when that happened?, someone’s going to find a diamond,  I guess i need to get a new ring, are you serious? why me, isn’t my life difficult enough? Why God, what have I done to deserve one thing after another”  Spiritually I probably looked like my 3 year old, throwing myself down on the ground and WAAAAAA.  As the flood of emotions went from matter of fact to self pity, the tears started to roll.  The self pity went to feelings of unloved.  It took just a couple of seconds to pull myself up with my boot straps as the old saying goes.  You know you can’t help the thoughts but as another old saying goes, “you can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair”.  Those thoughts flooded in of “why doesn’t Jesus love me” and right back out.  You can’t let those kind of thoughts build a home in your mind and settle in, like the slime guy on the Mucinex commercial.  But if we are honest we all have had them.  The feelings of not good enough, not loved, weighted down by trials of just living in this world.  None of us will get out of this life with out some junk, muck, gunk or some thoughts of self pity.  We are in the world.  The object is to keep our head up in the middle of the trials, to trust Jesus, to rest in Him even if those pitiful thoughts flood in.

For a few days before that incident i had been kind of meditating on this phrase “Inhale gospel, exhale grace”.  I had read one of Ann Voskamp’s blogs and she had mentioned that statement and it stuck with me.  So I had been thinking about it and mulling it over.  Of course i had come up with inhaling the love of Jesus and you will exhale and extend grace to others.  When this happened with my ring and my short lived melt down,  I realized that sometimes we need to inhale the love of Jesus and extend grace to ourselves.  I am loved.  I do mean something to Jesus.  He does think highly of me.  He is concerned about everything that touches me.  It is sometimes easy for me to extend grace to the ladies at the homeless shelter and the orphans or to another person going through some horrific life altering trial, but I have to remember it is ok to extend grace to myself when I am worn down by the pesky day to day mucky type trials. In medicine the terms are used, acute and chronic.  Acute is sharp pain that maybe short lived, or a disease that came on quickly and violently.  Chronic is a condition that develops gradually or a pain that is smaller but constant.  Some people get acute trials, sudden, life altering and some people get chronic trials like a dripping water faucet, constant more nagging type of trials.  We all need grace, no matter what type of trial we are going through.  We need to give grace to others and to ourselves.  So lets all together now,  INHALE GOSPEL, EXHALE GRACE.

 

Take a knee

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I have to admit something. I have a problem, when I feel out of control I take control of my hair.  I will cut it or dye it.   I feel like I need to go to an AA meeting “Hello, my name is Genelle and i’m addicted to control.” So this past week I’ve felt a little out of control with some areas of life. I feel like I’ve been on this roller coaster a bit too long and the Lord is at the controls saying “one more time, put your hands in the air”.

When I was young I loved rides. I was in Germany in my 20’s and one time I went to a carnival. My girl friend and I planned on riding all the rides.  I was a spit fire and wanted to see how many rides i could get by talking sweet and batting my eyes.  We got on the tea cups and the guy must have thought he was going to show us, he spun us around probably 30 times while others were getting on.  When the ride started we were already dizzy and sick. I had never been sick from a  ride.  I thought I was going to lose it.  I wanted off that ride.  When we got off the ride we had to lay down in the grass for about 30 min before we could even sit up. That’s kind of what i feel life is sometimes. I want to say, like the old Randy Stonehill song “Stop the World i want to get off”.  I want to say “Lord, can we move on to the next thing, please?  Can we get off this ride?”

Back to feeling out of control.  I can’t control my parents health, even though i try.  I can’t control our government, they are putting controls on me.  I have a 3 year old, enough said.  I am married, enough said.  I struggle with emotional eating and I’m not happy with that. Our finances are a mess, I don’t like that.  So what do i do?  In the middle of the night i get up and cut my hair. I know that is not really a sane move but that’s what I do. And it’s happened more than once.  One time I cut my hair to 1 inch all around my head. Crazy i know. I haven’t done this in a long time but there it is. And what is crazy I don’t think I am the only one who does this. Maybe its not hair. Maybe it’s yelling at the cars on the road, over eating, taking prescription pills, yelling at the children.  How about sleeping more than normal or working more hours than needed.  What do you do when you feel out of control and your life is on its own roller coaster?

There’s a  movie After Earth.  Its a Will Smith movie about a father and a son. The son is a very fearful kid because of some things that happened when he was young.  He and his dad get ship wrecked. This fearful kid has to save the day. He leaves and the dad can only talk to him through his ear piece. When the son becomes afraid or overwhelmed the dad says “Cadet, take a knee”. The boy kneels down and takes a moment.  It helps him to get out of his fear and his emotions.  There are few times when the boy is so frightened that his dad has to holler “Cadet, take a knee!”. There are times when I feel the Lord holler at me, “Genelle, take a knee”.   What a great mantra, mantra meaning to repeat a word, formula or phrase, often a truism. I can’t think of a better truism to repeat then “take a knee” and remember whom you serve, remember your God, remember He is in control.  “Take a knee” and breathe out fear and breathe in faith.  “Take a knee” and remember whom your trust is in, not yourself or your abilities but in your Savior, Jesus.  “Take a knee”.  I need to holler at myself more “Genelle, take a knee”, stop fretting, stop trying to control, turn it all over and rest in the Lord.  I need to take a knee and leave my hair alone.

Peace Weaver or Shield Maiden

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I like a good adventure movie. I raised 3 boys so I’ve seen my share.  I like fighting movies, as long as the good guy wins. I hate it when there is not a good ending. I want to see the hero come in to save the day.
I started watching some Viking movies and programs and I found that I love, as gory as it, the all or nothing, blood all over their faces, fights.  I love when they run in, looking like they will lose and die, in total abandonment, swords swinging and somehow they walk away. I love the rawness of their fights.  It looks “for real”.

I kept trying to figure out why i like them. I realized there are a couple reasons. One is we all want a cause we want to fight for something that we feel is valuable. And we want to know someone is fighting with us and for us.
I also think that kind of fighting was the way the Bible heroes fought. Could you imagine being in battle with David or Joshua? Gory! Cutting heads off, blood splattering, dodging swords, adrenalin and blood pounding in your ears. They were fighters not stand by the side saying “go away i can’t take any more”.
In the Viking programs they bring their shields together to stand under when the arrows are being shot at them.  That speaks volumes to me.  If we as Christians would stand with our brother and sisters when they are going through trials its like we have just brought our shields together to cover our fellow Christian.  Can you hear the clang of the shields?  Now i see how if one can put a thousand to flight then two can put ten thousand to flight.  If we stood shield to shields nothing could get through.

So I guess my title should be “I love Viking fights”.  I could stop there.  I researched a little about the women, the women who fight are called Shield Maidens.  They are not afraid to get in the fight and defend their families & towns.  If you look it up you will find conflicting information, if there were actually Shield Maidens fighting.  But lets just assume it is true for a moment.  Lets just suppose there are women out there willing to fight for what they believe and die for a cause.  I don’t find that hard to believe.  Maybe Esther didn’t fight but she was very courageous and could have been killed for her cause.  Deborah not only fought but led the army in battle.  And there are many other women, modern day, 50 years ago, 100 years ago and etc that would fight for what is right. I don’t find this hard to believe.  There are those women willing to fight.

In studying this I found during the same time, there were women called Peace Weavers.  It sounds nice doesn’t it, weavers of peace, it sounds so nice and polite.  These were the women, the daughters of one King who gave in marriage to another King or his son to cause peace to reign in the country.  One King decides that instead of fighting  he will just give his daughter, his precious daughter to another man.  And hopefully it will not only cause peace but maybe that family will be nice to his daughter.  The article i read “Women in the Early English Society” by Kathleen Herbert said that it rarely worked.  So much of the time sons were fighting and killing their uncles.

What kind of warrior am i?   I would love to be proficient in boxing or MMA, but i am not talking physically, i’m talking spiritually.  Am i the kind of woman who compromises to keep peace?  Do i “marry” and am i intimate with the things of this world?  Like gossiping with the coworkers so they don’t gossip about you.  Or heading to the club with the kids at school so they don’t think you are a Christian and make fun of you.  Or lying just to save face.  Or am i a Shield Maiden, ready to defend those around me, to cover with my shield those who are in need.   To slice off the head of the enemy and say “no, i won’t cave in”. To battle for those less fortunate.  To be covered in the enemy’s blood.  To have battle scars not defensive scars but offensive.  To fight and to defend unto possible death.  Which one are you?  Are you the polite Peace Weaver, compromising to keep peace or a Shield Maiden standing for what you believe and fighting when needed?

Feet shod with the preparation of…Rest?

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Those who have been around me for the last few years, know that the Lord has been speaking to me about rest.  It became a joke between close friends because every time I would talk to the Lord about a situation He would say rest.  Every time someone would talk to me about their situation He would tell me to speak rest into them. I got to where I would say “Really God, there is nothing else you can say except REST”.  This all started in 2009/2010 right before my mother had massive strokes, my dads health plummeted and I became their full time care giver.  Before Devin, my hunny, and I adopted a new born a beautiful little girl, did I mention I’m in my 50’s. The Lord’s timing is always right on, whether we think so or not.  I can’t tell you that I got it together in the rest area, I wish I could. Every time I think I have learned what I need to about rest, the Lord will bring up something else.  It’s been pretty interesting how He’ll bring another chapter of REST my way.

I believe that rest is one of the biggest things that we as Followers need to learn.  When you really, seriously learn to trust in Him then you will rest.  See, how it works? If we aren’t resting then we aren’t trusting.  It sounds so simple doesn’t it?  One of the hardest things to do is rest.  Rest in knowing that your Father has it all under control.  Rest in knowing that He will deal with those that speak wrong about you and make up lies.  Rest when you are trying to forgive but you just can’t.  Rest when you have a temptation that keeps tripping you up.  Rest when your children or spouse are going through a trial. Rest when we feel “I should have learned this already!”.  Rest, just rest in Him.  Our Heavenly Father is the one who is in control.  If we can learn to rest than we stop fighting against what He is doing.  Its like when you were a kid and you floated on your back in the pool or in a river, do you remember?  If you tried to paddle and kick, you were fighting to have control and you never could learn to float.  But once you stopped fighting it and let yourself go and rested then you found yourself floating and kind of bobbing in the water, free and relaxed.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.

What I find interesting about this verse is that He says He will give rest, we just have to come to Him.  I don’t know about you but I have to remind myself to go to Him for rest.  Even after all the lessons He has sent me I still have to consciously remember to rest.

My most recent “discovery” about rest is found in Ephesians 6:15.  I have been reading a devotional by Stormie Omartian The 7 Day Prayer Warrior Experience.  I know most people would read it in 7 days as a devotional but I have read and reread the chapters. When I read Day 4 – Shoe Your Feet with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, something, maybe it was the Lord, hmmm, made me start thinking in terms of rest.  Peace, rest can you see it?  If we are living in peace then we are resting.  If we are at peace/rest then we are not shaken.  Stormie says “The word ‘preparation’ means that the gospel of peace has already been accomplished.  That is, it is already prepared for you.  You just have to walk in it.  God has peace for us that is beyond our comprehension.  It is not that we can’t imagine having peace, it’s just that we can’t imagine having that kind of peace in the midst of the things we experience here on earth.”  Peace has already been given to us, just like everything we need, God has already prepared it for us.  If we can learn to rest in what His Word says, then we can not be shaken.  Our feet in the physical sense keep us from being shaken, our feet and our core.  Its the big thing now in physical fitness to talk about keeping your core strong.  Ephesians 6:14 in the Amplified Stand therefore having tightened the belt of truth around your loins…The Whole Armor is important, no, vital, but i just want to look at these 2 pieces right now.  If your core is fit with truth – God’s truth, His Word and your feet are fitted with peace, rest, you are in pretty good shape.  Just as when your physical core is strong and you have on the right shoes you can run, you can lift weights, your back won’t be hurting because its strong and you are balanced.  You know they say as you get older balance is one of the things that you can lose and that’s why older people fall and break bones.  If we would rest in what we know, let that sink in a minute, if we would just rest in what we know, then we are not only strong but balanced.  We rest in His truth, we rest in His Word, Hebrews 13:5b I will never leave you nor forsake you, Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, Before you were born I sanctified you, I ordained you.  Jeremiah 29:11a For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace.  WOW!  His Word is full of trust me, rest in me.  We don’t need to trust or rest in ourselves, that won’t work.  We need to trust, rest in His Word.   What He says is truth.  Our core and feet are sure, are strong.  The battles come but we aren’t shaken because we are resting in His truth.