Hold Me, Jesus.

On top of a busy few weeks, work stress, volunteer overload, and lack of my precious “me time,” I realized a bit late that I was scheduled to write this post as well. Just one more thing on my growing to-do list. The theme of the month is “Sustain” and it’s suddenly so obvious how I’ve been getting through each day.

 

The Lord sustains me. Sustain. Even keel. Safe.

 

I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
— Isaiah 46:4
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Some days it is such a comfort that the Lord is holding me. He’s in the boat with me and can calm the seas in a moment. He lived on this earth and experienced my pain and more.

 

But on other days, sustain sounds an awful lot like survive. And in our society, we are told to not just survive, but to thrive. We expect more for our big, adventurous lives than this. This life is just… normal. Is it OK to ask for more?

 

Not just hold my head above the water, but get me out of the water. Not just provide my daily needs, but give me a nice cushion.  Not just keep me a step from failure, but push me up to success.

 

No one wants to work their buns off just to sustain and maintain the place they’re at. I want to be rewarded. I want that raise. I want to see that fat melt away. I want that person I waited so patiently for. I want change.

 

I want my life to be mine and not His.

 

I know he is the Creator, Sustainer, and Giver of good things, but my selfish heart pushes back and demands more. It claims to know better what I need.

 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
— Philippians 2:3-4

 

Instead of bemoaning my lack in talents, personality, time, or money, I should rejoice in my God-given worth and how that can be used in service to others. I did not sculpt this life I live. It is both not to my credit and not mine to complain about. No matter my circumstances, it is a gift to be here. Freed. Saved. Held. Sustained in everything.

 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
— Philippians 2:5-8

 

While on earth, Jesus was the one who could have been sick of simply being sustained by God. He could have used his power to make his life more enjoyable, fun, profitable. But he didn’t. He was equal with God in every way, but he chose to serve us out of love.

 

 

Jesus lived for us instead of himself.

 

Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
— Philippians 2:9-11


 

I praise the Lord for his goodness! He loves me when I’m too low to love myself and too inflated to love anyone else.  With my changing attitudes and actions, there’s no way I could sustain myself. So I must learn to relax in his arms and let him hold me.

 

Sometimes I resist his hold like an impatient, thrashing child. I want my way. I feel it’s my life. But God holds tight knowing I’ll end up hurting myself if he lets go.

 

When in my free will I slip away and think I’ve found freedom to be me and lead the life I want, I realize that being apart from God is no freedom at all. He pulls me back in to where I belong. I say to my God:

 

"Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds."

Psalm 73:23-28


 

Lord, Help me to let you hold me. I can be independent and strong willed and think I have control of my life, but without your guidance and will, I won’t make it. Let me come back. Let me rest in your sustaining power. My life will go on as you see fit, so help me drop my worry, my striving to prove myself, and my yearnings for greater status or stuff. You sustain me, and that will always be enough. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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Bible Studying :: A Plan of Action

I have a mean case of the Januaries.

I don't want to do the chores, because I'm pretty sure I've already washed the dishes twelve billion times this January alone. I don't feel like going anywhere or doing anything because it's cold and icky in January. I don't feel like doing anything fun at home because all the fun was had in December, and now I'm bored. There's not much to look forward to in February so January seems even looooooonger.

Maybe you too have a case of the Januaries? (Hopefully mild, not mean like mine.)

It hasn't just been stuff around my house, even my Bible studying has had a case of the Januaries.

I feel like it's pretty normal to get into a bit of a rut with your routine, whether at home or with your time with the Lord. Isn't that what New Year's resolutions are all about? Spicing things up, setting new goals, getting excited about possible future accomplishments! 

Last week after I read Mel's post (in case you missed it, you should give it a read), I felt a little spark to my fire. A renewal of interest and excitement for getting back in the Word! Ever since the Christmas season, my efforts have been sporadic at best. I had kept telling myself that when the chaos of Christmas subsided, I would get back into a better routine. But then I got hit with a (mean and growly) case of the Januaries and other usual busyness, and I didn't want to do much of anything at all. And you know how it ends... me, sitting here, writing about how I need to get into my Bible again!

After thinking about this a bit-- Side note: I'm one of those people that painfully contemplates decisions and ideas for far longer than is ever necessary, just ask my poor friends--, I think I am going to go about it like this: Start Planning Ahead. Why I needed to contemplate so long for such a simple answer, who knows!

Plan Ahead! 

Whenever I am overwhelmed by things, or distracted from the tasks that I need to accomplish, I make a plan. Usually I do this one week at a time. My cleaning schedule falls into a weekly routine. I plan my groceries for one week at a time. I even figure out which days I'm going to workout during any given week. I write down a list of tasks for each day of the week, and cross them off as the days and week go on. The question really is, why wouldn't I add my plans for Bible studies to those things? It only seems logical to make better plans to be in the Word more if I do it for mundane things like keeping my house clean.

This is so simple!

It's so simple I'm almost embarrassed. (Okay, I am a little.)

Might you also need a little kick in the pants to get motivated? Would making some sort of plan or goal help you crawl out of your trench?

I encourage you to put a little effort into a plan of action. Plan out your devotion time for the week. Search for a new book you want to read. Read the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday. Enlist a few friends to form a Bible study group!

 Try it for a week or two or three or four even and see if it helps! I'm right here with you, giving it a whirl myself! 

I suspect that we won't be disappointed. Well, I suspect nobody was really ever disappointed by reading their Bible more! But I suspect you won't be disappointed by the process of figuring it all out ahead of time. That little bit of effort will make the actual time spent in the Word that much more productive, intentional, and worthwhile. 

It might be just the kind of new routine you needed to get yourself out of the "Januaries."

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Am I a workaholic?

Am I a workaholic?


How could I be when I binge multiple seasons of New Girl on Netflix in a single day? I mean, really, what about all of those times where I scroll mindless miles through Instagram and Facebook? What about those days where I spend hours clicking through ridiculous quizzes that will tell me which color of Crayola crayon I would be instead of focusing on all that I need to do?


However, lately, those days of responsibility avoidance have begun to become less frequent as I make list after list of tasks I must get done. My planner is pristine. My monthly calendar is marked. My weekly schedule is up-to-date. My daily to do list is prepped before bedtime. My life functions like a well-oiled machine.

 



Until, my self-made organizational machine consumes me.

 

Something unexpected comes up and I immediately start rearranging my plans to make sure I check everything off within my self-set time constraints.

 

A friend wants to catch up with me for a few minutes, but I find an excuse to keep working and keep my schedule from faltering.

 

Rather than binging my life away through seasons of House of Cards or a non-stop Rom-Com movie marathon, I allow no time for interruptions and keep working until bedtime.

 

Maybe I take small breaks to eat, refill coffee, or stretch. Most times my “breaks” really just mean switching to a different task to mark off on my checklist.

 

I’m sleeping plenty. I’m ahead of deadlines. I’m producing homework products that are far superior to past assignments I submitted. I feel so incredibly on-top of my game.

 

Except, my health is lacking.

 

The first thing I cut from my rigid schedule was working out and social time. Even when I pencil in yoga to the daily to do list, I seem to ignore that one. Organizationally and academically, I’m performing admirably. But, what about my physical health? What about my mental pauses and down time with friends?

 

However, so much worse, I cut my spiritual health. It was much too easy to dodge out on personal devotions to focus on my studies. Skipping chapel services to robotically type away on my laptop in the library didn’t even require a second thought.


 

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
— Galatians 1:10



My new found drive is not in-check. What should be a motivational blessing is actually an imprisoning curse. I can’t explain my drastic switch from napping sloth to unrelenting cheetah, but I can guarantee it’s unhealthy. While laziness is one way we avoid service to God, too much drive and a focus on the worldly tasks before us makes us focus on just that - the world.

 

Is my life really successful if I work to better the little world which encompasses me but don’t better my relationship with Christ?



I can check off everything on all of my lists and label myself as a successful college student, but this will never satisfy. My worth is not in this world. My worth is in Christ.

 

We all have been called to serve our Savior and to share his message. Yet, it’s the easiest thing to serve our own sinful flesh.

 

I recently heard an interesting statistic about millennials - a generation that I tail end. Ninety-six percent of millennials believe that they will somehow change or impact the world.

 

I see myself in that ninety-six percent. I dream of doing what the world deems to be great. I believe that my hard work and dedication will produce change and a better tomorrow. That’s great, but isn’t there something more? Isn’t there a greater purpose? Why am I trying to impact the world when my true purpose is to impact souls?

 

I am on this earth for a reason. You are, too. We have a mission. It’s a mission better than to dos, more rewarding than A’s, and more satisfying than success.

 

I sip my coffee.

 

I look at my checklist.

 

I still have so many boxes to check off today.

 

I mentally checkout of the table conversation my friends are having.

 

I type away.

 

The voice in my head is screaming, “Reset your focus!”

 

It doesn’t feel that simple.

 

It should be that simple.

 

I’m so thankful for my newfound dedication to the tasks God has placed into my life. Even if they are worldly, they’re tasks that God has intentionally given to me. There’s a reason that motivation and focus are becoming a part of me. But that’s all I must let it be - a part of me, not my whole self. I will not let it consume me.

 

I pause.

 

I glance around the table at my Christian girlfriends.

 

They type away on their laptops, headphone cords twisting in their hair.

 

Across the table, I make eye contact with one of them.

 

She smiles at me.

 

I smile back.

 

I know the obvious.

 

There’s a way to make it simple.

 

I pray.

 

“Christ, consume me.”

 

My perspective shifts.

 

My mindset changes.

 

My mission is beyond my textbooks, my planning, and my personal goals. My mission is Christ’s mission. It’s time I let that consume me.

 

I start by closing my laptop.

 

*
*
*
 

It’s been over a week since I began writing this post.

 

I’m still working on driving my drive.

 

I’m probably not skilled enough to receive my license just yet, but I am getting better at controlling my speed and the turns I take.

 

Maybe that’s partly because classes have ended and my finals are easy. My dorm room is mostly boxed up and I’ve started spending more time with friends. I have more free time and my to do lists have become shorter. I even woke up early this morning to go on a walk through the state park in town.

 

 

 

I’m happier when I take a few moments each day to coast. You can’t go full speed and expect your engine not to wear out. There are blessings in work. There are also blessings in leisure, in socialization, and in personal solitude.

 

I know the biggest contributing factor to finally downshifting my schedule is an effort to better my spiritual life through devotions and chapel sermons. When we seek to put Him first, our whole purpose and attitude change. Maybe when life becomes hectic again, I’ll fall back into bad habits, but I pray that God gives me the drive to focus on racing to Him first in all things and at all times.

 

After all, isn’t that my real mission here?

 

I think it’s time I relinquish some of my control and move to the passenger seat so Christ can drive me to roads and destinations that I cannot discover on my own.

 

Let Your Crown Shine Today.

Rev. 3:11

 

Too Adventageous? My Advent Schedule

AdventFBcover Can something be too beneficial? too good for you? too perfect?

Let me break it down here... can too much of a good thing be harmful?

Advent did not catch me by surprise this year as it has in the past. Our Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts have been swarmed with ideas to prepare my family for Christmas during this Advent season. There are so many good ideas! They seem promising (and fun!) for my family to focus on Jesus during this busy and materialistic season that our culture promotes. GOOD!

Most Advent ideas are countdown calendars. There are simple calendars with paper doors that open to bible passages or some mediocre chocolate that somehow tastes better because of its adorableness. Whoever came up with that idea is genius! Anyhow, there are other Advent countdown calendars that guide families to create ornaments for their Christmas tree with bible readings, paper link chains with bible passages to read on the inside, hymn sing togethers, daily advent devotions, Jesse Tree journeys, and even some that have a countdown list for good things to do for others. I have used some of these Advent activities and recommend them. GOOD!

So, how can good preparations for Christmas become bad for me? How can I become too "adventageous"?

When all of these good preparations for Christmas take my focus away from Jesus - the source and heart of Christmas.

And ladies, I sit here typing with only one hand while my other one is raised because I am guilty. I am SO guilty of over scheduling myself and my family. It is the first week of Advent goodness and already I have rushed to events, practices, and pulled an all nighter preparing for this coming Christmas. I want to echo Amber's words, "I Can(t) Do It All!" I have learned a lesson.

My checklists, Jesse tree ornaments, music performances, Advent by Candlelight, children's Christmas service plans, family get togethers and Christmas dreams have me burned out.

If Jesus came back today am I ready? Like Jesus' parable about the 10 virgins in Matthew 25, my oil lamp feels empty.

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Now, this post isn't written to make us feel stressed out or guilty but rather that we find peace. If we never miss a day on our Advent schedules, or if we skip a couple of days, or start with the best intentions and do not complete our tasks... we can find rest this Christmas.

A successful Christmas does not rely on how many things we prepare to do this time of year. Christmas was successful 2,000 years ago!

God prepared his Son to come to this earth at the exact time that was necessary for our salvation.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:6-8

Are we ready for Advent? Are we ready for Christmas? Is that really the important question?

I pray that above everything else during Advent we remember that God prepared FOR our salvation back then and is preparing FOR us even now.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. - John 14:1-4

We don't know when Jesus will return, we can't see God's calendar, but we can always trust his schedule. God is perfectly "adventageous" for us.

Click here to print off the bible study that goes along with this blog post!

1. Share! How do you prepare for Christmas during Advent?

2. Discuss! How can good preparations for Christmas become bad for us? How can we become too "adventageous"? 3. Read Matthew 25:1-13! How can we be prepared for Jesus‘ second coming? Give specifics.

4. Discuss! How can we properly balance Advent to avoid burnout?

5. Read Romans 5:6-8! Where do you find peace in these passages? Where do you find hope?

6. Read John 14:1-7! In verse 4 Jesus says that the disciples knew the way to the place where he was going. What is the way to the Father? (vs. 6)

 

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*If you use the bible study in a group or share it with another please give source credit to me and the blog. Thank you!

The "Too Adventageous" series is made up of four bible studies: 1) My Advent Schedule 2) God's Advent Menu 3) God's Christmas Decor 4) God's Christmas Gift

During the rest of the week you can find me at our private online bible study Facebook group where we dive deeper into God’s word and talk about it. If you want to be a part of the bible study I highly recommend being a part of the Facebook group where we get to know you more and be mutually encouraged! The Facebook group is private so any information that you share will be seen only by those allowed in the group.

You can join the Facebook online bible study group by clicking here.