Lead Us to Worship

Worship at Sunrise

How can I
Morning after morning
Wrap myself in
All this glory
And not open my
Mouth to praise?

by Alesha Sinks

So often I find myself overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. And yet, so often I fail to step forward into the intended result of awe and wonder…worship.

Isn’t that the purpose of creation?

”The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20 (NIV)

In the Psalms, there are examples upon examples of the writer praising God, inspired by and in awe of the glory of God’s creation.

“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
Psalm 104:24

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;”
Psalm 95:3-6

Yet so many mornings I hurry, feet pounding across weather pavement, stechting out to reach the sunrise. And when I get there, when I reach the oceans edge with the early light rippling across the waves, when I stand still and breathless at the beauty in front of me, I forget to do the very thing for which my soul was made.

I forget to do the very thing for which my soul was made.

I forget to take my awe of creation and let it lead me into awe of the Creator.

And that’s true of a little million moments throughout my days.
watching pure joy radiate from my son’s face
when that one shaft of light slips through the living room blinds
the first glorious sip of coffee
a peaceful moment, book in hand
a friend reaching out in love and encouragement
that one song playing right, exactly when I needed to hear it
a cool breeze stirring through the hot evening air, summoning us to rest

How often do these moements slip through my grasp, our grasp, awakening joy and peace and hope and beauty, but failing to turn our hearts in gratitude toward their Giver.

I’m practicing.
Practicing awareness in the moment. Practicing giving a practical, out-loud or a quiet, whispered-in-my-heart “thank you God” when I am surprised by joy. Praciticing reflection on blessings at the end of the day or the week or the month and practicing offering my thanks to God then. Practicing to make a seamless turn from “Wow, how beautiful” into “God, You are so beautiful”.

I’m practicing to make a seamless turn from “Wow, how beautiful” into “God, You are so beautiful”.

Will you practice with me? Will you join me in allowing the beauty around us to not just catch our eyes or our hearts, but to turn our hearts toward God?

My prayer for us today is…

Let the beauty we encounter daily lead us to worship.

Be blessed,

New Year, New You?: (Why Your Brokenness Is What You Really Need to Bring Into 2019)

New Year, New You?: (Why Your Brokenness Is What You Really Need to Bring Into 2019)

So we’re three Monday’s into the New Year and maybe we’re just starting to realize that a New Year and a few resolutions jotted into a fresh planner doesn’t automatically result in a new you.
A new me.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1548165838945-P8ZE9GH50T9ST8IAQAN5/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kNiEM88mrzHRsd1mQ3bxVct7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z4YTzHvnKhyp6Da-NYroOW3ZGjoBKy3azqku80C789l0s0XaMNjCqAzRibjnE_wBlkZ2axuMlPfqFLWy-3Tjp4nKScCHg1XF4aLsQJlo6oYbA/IMG_1785.JPG?format=original" alt=""/>

Maybe you started this year full of hopes and dreams and prayers that this year would be different. Prayers that a change in the calendar would bring that change into your life you’ve been waiting for. That a shift in the date would bring a shift in the winds of life, a shift in the temperature of your soul.

How many of us have started this new year wanting nothing more than to make a clean break with 2018 and step into 2019 fresh and full and vibrant and new?

But maybe, as the weeks of this year have begun ticking past and a steadily increasing pace, you’re finding the fresh and full and vibrant and new of a new year escaping you. You want a fresh start and a clean break, but you can’t seem to get there.

You want to leave 2018 in the dust, but it is the dust and the dust is in your hair and your clothes and probably your mouth too, because dust tends to just get everywhere and hang on.

I feel you.
And it’s okay.

Because we can’t always walk into fresh and free as easily as turning a page on our calendar. The past clings to us and all the new and different we can muster can't completely shake off the dust of past mistakes, past hurts, past regrets, past pain, past loss, past heartache, past decisions, past moments that hang on as memories, whether we invite them or not.

Maybe today already, just three short weeks into this fresh start, you’re feeling the pain of the past clouding your fresh start.

This year, like most every new year, I’m tempted to think that this is the year. New year, new season, new me.

But I also know the truth.
There is no new me without a dying of me.

Let me say that again. Differently.

There is no new me in the new year without me dying to myself in the new year.

Dying to old habits.
Dying to old thought patterns.
Dying to old fears and insecurities.
Dying to my selfishness and self-absorbed tendencies.
Dying to a purpose of living for me so that I can come alive to my God-given purpose.

And Ann Voskamp says it best…

“There is no growth without change, no change without surrender, no surrender without wound—no abundance without breaking. Wounds are what break open the soul to plant the seeds of a deeper growth.”
The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life

And a new you in the new year might not sound so wonderful when you stop to take a hard look at what it takes to make you new.

It took a Savior, leaving heaven’s perfection to wrap himself in earth’s fragility.

It took a God-man stepping into our wrong and shame and bearing it all on His perfect shoulders.

It took Jesus, the flawless sacrifice, allowing His body to be broken so that our brokenness might be healed.

And not just healed, but repurposed for glory. His glory.

This new you might sound hard and ugly and painful. But it is worth it.

This brokenness, this dying to self, is nothing to fear. See we don’t become new and whole and healed by ignoring the past, the pain, the struggle. We don’t become new by doing a hard reset on everything we don’t like about our lives with the flip of a calendar page.

We become new by allowing the brokenness to come and taking the brokenness to the Healer.

We become new by dying to ourselves, our rights, our opinions, our privileges, our desires, so that in our dying we can be made new.

If you are plunging forward into this new year just hoping against hope
begging God for a fresh start
for a new beginning
for a chance to leave the pain of the past in the year that’s gone
or maybe wondering how to leave the dust and pain of the past behind when it is clinging so tightly to every broken piece of you
remember that all you need to bring into this new year is your brokenness.

Be brave enough to bring your brokenness into 2019 and take it to God who is the Great Healer.

There is healing in the brokenness.

There is growth.

There is change and abundance.

There is a new you.

But it is not found by ignoring the past.

It’s found by digging into it with the One who is in the business of redeeming broken pasts. The One Who is in the business of taking death and turning it into life. It’s found by allowing yourself to be more fully broken, so that all the bits of you that need to be left behind can die, and so that God can pull beauty from the ashes, refashioning the broken bits of you and me into beauty and glory and…new.

{If you have more questions for me on this topic or are curious about this God Who restores and redeems brokenness, feel free to email me by clicking the mail icon in my blog header. I’m praying that you can, through your brokenness and God’s help, become the new you that God desires to form you into, in this new year.}

Happy New Year

He Answers: [The Prayer I Forgot]

He Answers: [The Prayer I Forgot]

A few weeks ago, over an emotional conversation, I told a friend, "I'm surprised I'm not crying right now. I've cried, or at least teared up, pretty much every day for the past few months."

And it’s true.
The hard of the past year has brought me to a place where tears seem as though they are ready and waiting at any moment. I never was that person: a crier. I never was her.
But now, maybe I am.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1545043720494-PNKKNI25COJYSTBLHSOU/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kDHPSfPanjkWqhH6pl6g5ph7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z4YTzHvnKhyp6Da-NYroOW3ZGjoBKy3azqku80C789l0mwONMR1ELp49Lyc52iWr5dNb1QJw9casjKdtTg1_-y4jz4ptJBmI9gQmbjSQnNGng/IMG_1408.JPG?format=original" alt=""/>

The next day, sitting on my couch, reading a book about how God does what He says He will do, about how God always answers prayers, I teared up again. That all too familiar burning behind my eyelids and simultaneous hardening in my throat. I closed my eyes and let the emotion rise. And fall.

It often happens that way. The saddness rising, full and intense, and then, nearly as quickly, it begins to fade leaving only a dampness in my eyes and ache in my heart.

I sighed.
There it was for today.
Would I ever again make it through I day without tears?

But at the same time this thought sighed its way through my tired brain, I turned my focus to noticing.
Noticing the tears.
Noticing the sudden surge of emotion.
Noticing the when and the how and knowing that if I noticed and waited, just maybe the Holy Spirit would whisper the why into my heart.

And in this moment, He did.

I don’t remember quite when, so maybe it was just always this way, but I learned to be pretty good at holding my tears. Holding on to them till a more appropriate time. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that the problem with tears is that they don’t work like this.

Emotions surge at times I often expect them the least and if I don’t allow myself to feel them in the moment, they often never come at all.

I held in tears over my grandfathers death so many times, that when the funeral finally came, and it was “time” to cry, I couldn’t. I still have never cried over his death.

As years have passed, I’ve grown to hate this part of myself. And more than a few times, I’ve found myself pleading with God that He teach me to cry. That He would allow me to release the emotions bottled up inside me at the right times.

I’ve begged Him to grant my heart the release and relief of tears.

I want to cry in joy and in pain. I want to cry for myself and I want to cry with others. I want tears to come and I want them to mean that I’m letting down my walls, the ones I’ve built so high and strong.

I noticed and I waited. And He answered.

”This is what you prayed for.” He whispered. I’m answering.”

The tears filled my eyes again.

And once again, I knew that He answers. That He really, truly, absolutely, completely, for sure answers prayers.

I used to think that if I felt nothing, saw no answer, heard no voice during prayer or immediately after, then it meant the prayer was answered no. Maybe I didn’t consciously think that, but I felt it deep down, and I often lived like it was true.

The tearing of this past year and the chronicling of when He speaks has shown me a truth I never really saw before.

He answers.

God answers prayer.
He does.
He really truly does.

The reason we miss it so often is that by the time our answer does come, we’ve forgotten that we prayed for it in the first place. And so we don’t notice.

But if we take the time to make note and take note and notice, we will find that God answers prayers all the time.
He really does.

I think I first prayed for tears in high school, over ten years ago. And once again, I’m tearing up just writing these words, because the realization that He answers is simply so overwhelming.

It’s not often immediate.
It’s sometimes different than how I imagine.
But it is real. He answers.

And on a random Tuesday, early in the Christmas season, the Holy Spirit whispered into my heart to remind me that my tears were an answered prayer.

Be blessed

Be Still: {My Struggle to Let God Be God}

I’ve gotten pretty good at doing for God.

At going when He says go.
At doing when He says do.
At working when there is work He has placed in front of me.

But I’ve found myself in a season where God has been asking me to do something new. Something more challenging than I would have imagined. Something that is stretching my faith past what I thought possible.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1541973097042-LG3NIBMJ7NBDCEU83IVA/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kMGtGj5MonXlQlAhELeIEjRZw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWEtT5uBSRWt4vQZAgTJucoTqqXjS3CfNDSuuf31e0tVGcK7tbWhWmJW_hRYMmWGEqm71EdF1gzTwvvAnqrVSEsze1Z1RqLaAHWPx0CyAdPp4/Still.jpg?format=original" alt=""/>

He is asking me to do nothing.

Nothing. To wait on Him. To be still. To stop trying to do anything or even to think about doing anything.

Now hear me: He’s not asking me to lay in bed and eat chocolate. He’s not asking me to abandon my cooking or housekeeping or mothering. He’s not asking me to throw up my hands and ignore all the hard parts of life. The hard parts of my own soul. Rather, in a few key areas of life…

He is asking me to let Him be God.

He’s asking me to let the Holy Spirit work, not my mouth. He’s asking me to focus on my heart and get still and quiet and close to Him. He’s asking me to stop planning and preparing and preaching what I think is best and instead to pray. He is asking me to wait when it feels like waiting will be pointless, even harmful. He is asking me to stop planning and be still. He is asking me to stop fixing and let Him work.

He is asking me to let Him be God.

These words had been spoken into my heart and life several times already when, on an average weekday afternoon, elbow deep in hot, sudsy dishwater, I found myself facedown on my kitchen floor praying. I had been standing at that worn stainless steel sink, dumping my anxieties out on Him and scrubbing out my frustrations at the expense of my dishes. I kept going over and over the same things: begging Him to show me what to do, begging Him to move, begging for change, begging for guidance.

In the midst of that anxious, sudsy pleading, I felt an overwhelming urge to be still before Him.

So I found myself there, facedown before God during a rare moment of quiet, doing my best to just be still and listen.

I could sense His presence so deeply in that moment. And as I waited and listened and focused on opening my heart to Him, a few words came to my mind. A phrase I knew from the Bible, but couldn’t tell you the exact location. So I pulled out my phone to google it’s exact location and wording. This is what I read.

“And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”” ‭Exodus‬ ‭14:13-14‬ (ESV)

Emotion poured palpably through me. Once again, God was affirming what He had said to me.

Do nothing. Be still.

Let Me act. Let Me be God.

“You need only to be still.” (NIV)

Tears and relief and joy and gratitude followed. But only for a moment. Because it’s not easy to lay our lives in God’s hands, especially when things feel hard, desperate.

Don’t miss what I am saying. This was not the first time He had told me this. But rather…

In His kindness, He spoke to me yet again, to reaffirm the things He had already said to me.

I wish I could say I haven’t wavered since this kitchen floor meeting with God. But I have. Even five minutes later I found myself wrestling again.

But I keep coming back to this moment to remind myself of what I know is true.
To remind myself of what He has told me.
To confess and repent of my sinful tendency to take things into my own hands.
To place myself back in a posture of surrender to Him once again.

I think perhaps, God has asked this of me more times in my life than I realize. Maybe now, I am finally getting better at listening to Him when He does.

Be blessed

Fall: Don’t Forget

Fall: Don’t Forget

I sat on the park bench watching.
Watching my husband chase our three year old up and down the ramps and slides.
Watching our one year old climb up and down the slide.
Watching older kids run past shouting and laughing.
Watching the overcast sky fade from pale grey to dark gray.

The breeze was light, but just cool enough to feel that first hint of fall.


  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1539889710948-53U6H7OHR2EQN7RZJH4A/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kNPKVmbt05aEWnErXou3fDl7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z4YTzHvnKhyp6Da-NYroOW3ZGjoBKy3azqku80C789l0tb-hnCqoepq4X8c1traqO_6-8vaS3UGENu9QP5pfFlLbyLeIY6QzmBTG9h7XCKkkQ/IMG_0515.JPG?format=original" alt=""/>

I looked around, feeling that warm-but-not-hot air and the ever-so-slightly-cool breeze winding around me. I had forgotten.

In the long, hot months of Florida summer, I had forgotten that another season would come. And I had forgotten how wonderful it is when it does.

I sat there silently marveling.
Marveling that somehow I could forget that summer would be over and the heat would fade and we could go outside in the evening into the most perfect weather.
Marveling that I could somehow forget that the heaviness of summer heat and humidity would be replaced by the lightness of a cool sunny day.
Marveling that we are there already, at that point in the year where we can feel the season changing.

Heat to cool.
Heavy to light.
Summer to fall.

And I had forgotten.

But here we are. The first hints of the joy to come already showing up around me.

And I as I sat breathing in the cool, light air around me, I felt a whisper in my heart that I’ve come to learn as His voice.

”Don’t forget what’s coming.”

Don’t forget what’s coming.

This season of life has been so long. It’s felt like the summer, hot and smothering and heavy, and to be honest, I’ve found myself forgetting. Forgetting that the season will change. Forgetting that although God allows us to walk through the valley, He will also lead us beside still waters. He will also restore our souls.

"Don’t forget what’s coming,” He whispered.

And to be honest, I can barely remember what a season of freedom in certain areas of life feels like, because this season has been long. So very long.

But I know Whom I believe. Whether I remember what a change in season feels like or not, I will trust what He says.

This year, as our environmental season shifts around me, I have a whole new reason for hope. Hope that this season of the soul is shifting too.

Subscribe To The Blog

Subscribe To The Blog And Get My “Perspective Reset Devotional" For FREE

Congratulations! You Are Subscribed To The Blog And Your Devotional Is Being Sent Right Now.

Pin It on Pinterest