God with Us: {Peace in Christmas}

It’s easy to get overwhelmed this time of year. With the to-do lists and the expectations piling up I’m finding my soul squeezed tight…even on vacation.

What about you? Is your heart feeling the pull of stress and anxiety too?

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Whenever I feel the grip of anxiety wrapping itself right around my heart I have to stop and reevaluate. Almost always the stress is because I’ve failed to seek and spend time with God.

So today, I opened my Bible to the book of Matthew, the beginning, the Christmas story. And every year it hits me again, the wonder and awe of these simple chapters.

There is a beauty, an awe, a peace in the story of God with us.

“”Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”
Matthew 1:23

God with us.
…with us.

He left heaven, perfection and peace and joy. He left that to be with us. To walk with us. To teach us. To love us. To save us.

He left heaven to be born, helpless. He left heaven to grow and learn, humbled. He left heaven to die, wrongfully accused. He least heaven to return, glorified.

He left heaven for us. To make a way for us to be with Him, now and for eternity. He left heaven to bring His peace and joy to our hard, earthbound lives, to bring us steadfast hope in an eternity with Him.

God came to be with us on earth so that we can be with Him for eternity.

As my mouth whispered the words of the Christmas story, my heart breathed in hope. Because the word of Truth breeds hope and peace.

So in this season, and truly, every season, the anecdote for anxiety is truth…the truth of our position, our hope. The word of truth about the Truth Himself is the peace of Christmas.

Be blessed

Day 20: Walk Humbly Before God

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Matthew‬ ‭6:27-30‬

Self-sufficiency is so deceptive.
It sounds noble.
It sounds wise.
It sounds strong.

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But when it comes to God, we were created to be dependent on Him. We are intended to find our sufficiency in Him.

“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,”
2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:5‬

And these verses can be insulting to our pride. We want to be strong and independent and self-sufficient. Yet God comes to us and says that without Him we are helpless and hopeless.

But there is freedom in humility. There is a freedom found in admitting our weakness and our need for God. There is freedom in laying down our pride, in ceasing our struggle to be perfect, and in admitting our need for God.

Because deep down we all know we aren’t perfect. Deep down we all have the sense that our success and strength and sufficiency is just a facad that could come crashing down at any moment. And in humility we find the ability to lay down our facade and accept grace.

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Then, when our sufficiency and strength are no longer dependent on ourselves, we find a weight lifted. Instead they are dependent on an all-sufficient, all-powerful God.

And we are free.

Free from the weight of try-hard and do-good and self-sufficient. And it all hinges on humility.

Will we humble ourselves before God to find freedom?

Be blessed
<3

Day 10: Anxiety + Humility

I grew up in the church, so I know this verse well. You probably do too.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬

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It’s plastered on coffee cups and calendars, inside the pages of journals and preached on from pulpits. And it sounds so good, but it always felt so elusive.

I always wondered…“How do I cast my cares upon Him? And leave them there? How do I rest in His care for me?”

There’s another verse we hear a lot…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you”
1 Peter 5:6

It was almost a year ago when I realized these verses were next to each other. I wondered how I had never noticed. It was right there the whole time. It gave a whole new meaning to that “popular” verse, and opened my eyes to the meaning of humility before God.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-7‬‬‬

Our releasing of anxiety can’t happen until we stand humbled before God.

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Because…
Anxiety says, “I need to fix this.”
Anxiety says, “I need to control this.”
Anxiety says, “I need to make this happen.”

But humility says, “My life is in God’s hands.”

“He has all the power and authority on heaven and on earth.”

“He knows the beginning from the end.”

“I am powerless without God’s Spirit empowering me.”

“He is in control.”

And it’s humbling to look at our lives and realize that truly we are not in control. It’s humbling, threatening, and scary…until we realize that the One Who is in control cares for us.
“He cares for you.”

Anxiety and humility are tightly entwined. Lack of humility before God will lead to anxiety. Humility before God will lead to a releasing of anxiety, because we can trust both His power and His care.

Be blessed
<3

Pursue Peace: {Seeking True Peace in Relationships}

I’ve been studying 1st Peter and these verse come in the middle of a section all about relationships, how we are to love each other and strive for unity and submit to authority. And I came to these verses…
“For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.'”
1 Peter 3:10-12

Am I a conflict-avoider or a peace-pursuer?
The question flowed from the tip of my pencil into my bright teal-blue journal as I poured over these two verses. The question came suddenly and stopped me just as quickly. How are avoiding conflict and pursuing peace related, I wondered? Why did I put those two things together?
Then the next moment I saw it all so clearly.

pursuepeace

Is it my aim to pursue peace, or merely to avoid conflict?

I am a people pleaser.
I hate conflict.
I wish I never had to disagree with anyone.
And my mind says that I can’t experience peace with others and be at odds with them at the same time. So I listen to my mind try live life dodging hard conversations and conflict-prone situations.
But avoiding conflict doesn’t bring relational peace.

Peace is ‘freedom from worry’.

The only reason I run from conflict is worry.
I worry what the other person will think if I disagree with them. I worry I’ll make someone angry. I worry that I will get yelled at or snapped at or even frowned at. I worry that the relationship will be damaged. I worry that the other person won’t find the relationship valuable enough to work for. I worry that I will have to say hard, uncomfortable, honest things.
I worry and I worry and I worry.
And that is not peace.

Although I may be successful in preventing an outward conflict, I’m creating an inner conflict for myself. I never have the opportunity to truly be at peace with others when I’m simply shying away from the real stuff. And if I keep the conflict from happening, then I remove the other person’s choice to accept the peace I’m offering.

Just like true love can’t be forced, true relational peace can’t be forced either.

Tt’s scary to be real and it’s scary to go to the hard places with people and it’s scary to be honest. Because I can be honest and loving and gentle, and I can seek peace in the hard places, but I can’t guarantee that the other person with accept the peace I’m offering.
I can’t guarantee that they will accept me.

So I worry and I avoid conflict, and in the process, I lose all the opportunities I have for true peace. When we are willing to reach out in peace and be honest yet gentle and firm yet gracious, we will often find that others will reach back with peace. True peace is a two way street. And conflict avoiding puts it all on the avoider, and withholds true relational peace from both people in the relationship.

Peace is ‘freedom from worry’ and when you build a relationship on honesty, only then can you build real trust and real peace.

Peace takes work.
Peace takes honesty.
Peace takes bravery.
But peace is worth pursuing.

Are you a conflict avoider or a peace pursuer?
Is it your aim to pursue peace, or merely to avoid conflict?

Be blessed
<3

{This Friday I will be co-hosting the Hello, My Name is ________ link up with Kerry from Glory in the Valley. This link up is an opportunity for us to shed the lies that we often use to define ourselves and rename ourselves according to our identity in Jesus. Join us this Friday right here or on Kerry’s blog, and link up your Hello, My Name is ________ post.}

Chaotic Stillness in Mexico

I’ve been descirbed as quiet, shy, and reserved. And those are all acurate descriptions. But I’m also a full fledged extrovert (people person). I don’t quite understand how someone so afraid of people can so desperately need them, but I do.
And as I looked back over my most peaceful, most precious moments in Mexico last week, my extroverted nature was clearly seen. Because my moments of stillness were always full of people and life. I wish I had a picture for every one of these moments. Although pictures are worth a thousand words, but without the words you’d never know the joy and peace surging through my heart in these moments.

Watching ‘Cars’ with Louis. His eys glued to the tv, his head on my shoulder, his hand reaching up to pull my head down to rest on his.

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Watching a group of ladies chatting and cooking in Spanish. And in the middle of the bunch the ever smiling Pastor Louis, hands dirty, chatting and laughing and shedding joy into everything around him.

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Climbing dusty rocks to the top of thier own little mountain. Looking down at the patchwork of feilds and roads and house dotted here and there and then the town with the houses coming thick and close together. And around it all the hills. Craggy, bush and rock covered little mountains, purple and blue against the early morning light.

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Painting the tan pants onto the mural of the little boy. Concentrating on every brush stroke so completely that everything else, the kids running in and out, the adults talking, the sounds of tiles being laid a few feet away, faded away. Worship music playing gently in the background and every ounce of stress pouring out of my body during those long, concentrated moments.

Sitting in the little office in the back with far too many people for the number of chairs, every person singing. And the voices and instruments kept lifting and swelling until I thought the room would burst, not from the noise, but from the fullness of praise and joy and glory and beauty of it all.

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Little Antu falling asleep on my lap, her little black, Ethopian afro bobbed with each bump in the road, and my hand cradling her, trying to ease the jolts. And I meditated on the wonder of God’s grace, that an abandoned baby in Ethopia would be adopted by an American youth pastor and his wife, just to move to Mexico before her third birthday to start an orphanage for abandoned, orphaned children in Mexico.

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Once again with far too many people for the space, we had cramed into a little roadside torta stand, eating, laughing, talking, and drinking tall glass bottles of coke.

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There is indescribable peace for me in the moments of noise and chaos and joy. Somewhere, in the middle of all the noise and hustle around me, my heart slows down till it almost stops, trying to soak in the joy and the beauty of it all. And every care in the world washes out of my heart and mind in that moment of people and noise and joy and beauty.

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And I have nothing profound to say except that I don’t quite understand how my mind works, but I’m thankful for the places that God allows me to see Him and feel His peace so clearly.
I want to keep seeing peace in the chaos.
I want to keep finding beauty in the crazy.
I want to keep soaking in His presence with people and life and hustle and bustle all around.

Be blessed
<3

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