Take Care of Yourself

When your body suffers, so does your ministry.

Oh my. I’m sitting in my basement office in my pj’s and when I prayed and asked God for guidance for this post, those words came to me. I suppose God wants me to write about the elephant here in my room.

I’ve been struggling with a physical issue for a few weeks, and I haven’t been able to write a blog post because it felt draining to me. Just being honest. Writing a blog post like this, well, it’s been hard because I open up here in the hopes of helping someone out there.

Being honest about what we’re going through can be hard. Letting others see us without our game faces (or makeup!) can be so revealing, so cringe-worthy. We want to appear to be strong and sleek and on top of things. Not weak, pudgy, and falling asleep on the couch before it gets dark.

And yet when we’re not feeling our best or we’re battling something attacking our bodies, we are not able to perform at our best.

I remember when I used to run a long time ago when my knees would allow it. If I ate a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream the night before, my morning run suffered.

Now if I don’t exercise, I struggle with brain fog and my entire body suffers. (I suppose I’ve been in denial thinking I can eat the way I used to when I was in my twenties and NOT exercise and nothing is going to change. Hello, reality!)

So it seems, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our ministry, our service to God and others suffer.

Your ministry might be spending time with your child and showing them God’s love through nature walks, volunteering at a food pantry, working long hours to put food on the table for your family, encouraging a friend, visiting someone who can’t venture out, writing stories of faith and hope, singing of God’s glory..the list can go on and on.

So, taking care of ourselves would not be a selfish act, but a way to honor God and to love others. And to be ready.

Be ready?

That’s right. When God calls us to expand our ministry or begin a new one, we’ll be excited and full of overall tingling anticipation—not drained at the very thought of doing ONE MORE THING.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Today, I’m taking the plunge into better health so my ministry won’t suffer and I can be ready. I’ve been here before and wandered off to My Own Way Lane where chocolate chips, potato chips, and bowls of frosting abound. But God is drawing me back. (Thank You, Lord!)

So what does this involve for me? Eating better (cue my grumpy toddler face), exercising (face contorted in pain), and a doctor’s visit (using wisdom here).

What about you? Are you willing to take care of yourself so your ministry can flourish and you can be ready when God calls?

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.)

“Be prepared in season and out of season.”

(2 Timothy 4:2b NIV.)

Searching for Your Purpose

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“What am I supposed to do with my life? What is God calling me to do?”

I’ve heard others ask those questions, even asked them myself a zillion times or so. It all reminds me of picking blackberries.

Let me explain.

When I was a little girl, my brother and I would follow the trail behind our house and into the woods as we searched for blackberries. Not the green or red ones, of course, but the dark, fat ones.

Usually, I could stay on the path and pick enough to contribute to Mom’s cobbler. But sometimes I’d spot a ginormous berry in the middle of the blackberry bush, so I’d work my way through those pesky briars as they tugged at my clothing and scratched my skin.

When I’d finally reach for the prize, that one blackberry I knew would be worth the bloody scratches on my arms and legs, my slightest touch to a nearby branch would send the thing plummeting to the ground.

Sigh.

So without my top berry, I would maneuver my way out, carefully backing up as I tried to avoid more snags and cuts. After feeling defeated and a little beaten up, I’d realize there was a whole mess of blackberries on the outside of the bush hiding under the canopy of leaves. I’d missed them because I’d had my eyes fixed on that berry in the middle. The one that looked the best. The one that would be the most difficult to pick.

What looked the best and what I knew would be the hardest to reach seemed to be the one I needed. Or so I thought.

And isn’t that what we do sometimes when we’re searching for our purpose, God’s will for our lives?

We use our eyes or our logic and we dive into something we have no business diving into—all because we think it’s the real “prize.” It makes sense to us. We know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but we rush right in there after it, believing it to be “God’s best” for our lives without stopping first to check with Him.

We get banged up, scratched up, left feeling defeated because when we finally reach “it,” the thing falls away and we’re left standing there looking at the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. We wonder if it’s too late to turn around and ask God to show us His plan. (Hint: As long as you’re still walking around on planet earth, it’s not too late.)

If we would just stay on the trail God has us on, He will show us. If we stay close to Him and keep talking to Him even when we don’t feel like it, even when the answers are SO slow in coming, even when we don’t feel Him, and even in the midst of a pandemic when things seem to be out of control, God will show up and teach us through His Holy Spirit what we’re supposed to do with our lives.

My friend, your life’s purpose may be closer than you think, easier to recognize than you realize, and simply not at all what others believe you should do with your life.

Go to God. He’s the One growing the berries, after all. And He’s the One who has the best recipe for your life.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” (Psalm 57:2. ESV.)

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 NLT.)

 

Photo from pexels.com.

 

 

 

The Hallway and the Door

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When God calls you to step forward and walk through the door He’s opening for you, you’ve got to be careful you don’t get stuck standing in the hallway.

In the hallway, you can convince yourself you’re not ready or you’re not good enough. Or maybe the door isn’t opened all the way; there’s only a sliver of light cutting through the shadowy hallway and that scares you. Let’s face it, you’d rather stay where you know what to expect. There are no surprises in the hallway except the occasional dust bunny parachuting from the ceiling to land on your head.

Or maybe you’re too busy. That’s right, you’ve got a dozen or so loads of laundry to do, the kitchen cupboards need rearranged, and the grass needs cut. Maybe you need to frost a hundred cupcakes for a bake sale, and you need to go to the store to buy a new surge protector for your laptop.

You can convince yourself you don’t have the time for the door and whatever is inside, so you tell God, “Today doesn’t work for me. Maybe tomorrow.”

So you busy yourself and hurry through the hallway to gather the dirty laundry. And while you’re doing that, you notice the photographs hanging on the walls. You stop and remember the past, the colors of those failures so vivid. You look away. It’s too painful. But when you turn, you find yourself reminiscing over another photograph, one you cherish. You wonder if things will ever be that good again. You feel out of sorts, mixed up, and confused like someone is playing Ping-Pong with your emotions.

Satan is doing all he can to get you to linger here so he can whisper his lies, wreaking havoc on your heart and causing every emotional outburst or breakdown imaginable. You see, then he’s not only discouraging you, but he’s stealing your time too. It’s a double whammy.

And let’s not forget how Satan loves to steal your time by distracting you. He’s going to whisper your to-do list in your ear, reminding you how all of those things are so much more important than some silly door. While he’s at it, he will probably tell you you’re not hearing from God anyway and that the door before you isn’t even for you; it’s for someone more qualified and capable. The enemy will tell you you’d better stick with rearranging those kitchen cupboards; someone might come over and see how you’ve got the canned corn mixed in with a box of rice and think you’re completely unorganized and a real slob.

But wait a minute. God pointed out that door to you, didn’t He? And you’ve been praying about it for such a long time, and now it’s opening…

Keep moving, my friend! Don’t turn back now, and don’t let your precious time get swallowed up by distractions, procrastination, or doubt. And don’t keep pacing back and forth with that to-do list in your hand, the one you made for yourself.

Go with the one task God has given you today. Move closer to that door. And if it’s not open all the way when you get to it, pray. Perhaps you’re to knock on it and it will swing wide open when you do.

And when it does open and you take that step and cross the threshold into God’s will for your life, you’re going to realize it’s so much better than hanging out in the hallway with a liar and a bunch of dust bunnies.

Instead, you’ll be living joyfully, immersed in God’s presence, and doing what He’s called and created you to do.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV.)

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11 NLT.)

Wake Up and Live Courageously

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Are you living courageously, boldly? Or are you hiding in the corner of your life, hoping those vultures circling overhead will move on, peeling away those cold shadows they’ve covered you in?

What vultures?

Fear, doubt, shame, anger, regret…calling.

Wait a minute. How did “calling” get in there?

Perhaps that’s what terrifies you the most and is keeping you cowering in the corner with your face buried against the wall, your hands over your ears. Perhaps you can live with a little fear or regret but God’s calling on your life is daunting, terrifying, and brings about some serious panic attacks while you’re hunkering down, praying for this calling to pass and land on someone else.

But don’t you know your calling is where God wants you to shine?  Your calling is what you were born for, what He created you to do, and where you will live with unspeakable joy.

God has matched your life with your calling. All of your past experiences and your current struggles are about to collide with the future God has planned for you.  Perhaps it will cause such a shockwave, such a shaking, that it will be felt clear across the world.

Sound a little scary?

Don’t worry, my friend. God is with you.  You know He promised He will never leave you, and He never breaks a promise.  Never.  He is the solid core of your calling.

But maybe you’re looking back and seeing all the things you tried to do and failed: that college class you took and dropped, the job you quit after a month, the new bowling league or softball team. Maybe you’re even looking back at the way you worked so hard to plant a garden a few summers ago only to find little critters chewing the vines of your cantaloupes and testing every strawberry.  Perhaps you wondered, “Why can’t I do this?  Everyone else can.  I tried so hard.”

Why?  Because God doesn’t want you to be like everyone else. He wants you to be like His Son, Jesus:  obedient.  And that means obedient to your calling.

You see, your calling isn’t something you try just because everyone else is doing it or something you believe in because your neighbor’s brother’s nephew’s wife thinks you’d be good at it. And it’s not some vulture waiting to strike and pick you apart, leaving you shredded and desperate to return to the safety of your corner.

That would be the enemy trying to scare you off. Satan would rather see you trembling in the corner than living out God’s calling for your life and shining for Him. Remember, your calling could possibly shake the world.

So what exactly is your calling?

Your calling is God’s hand working in your life through your past and present and reaching out to you as He whispers, “This way.  Come see what I have for you.”

It’s time to take His hand. It’s time to wake up to your calling and live courageously.  And it’s time to wake up the world.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9 NIV.)

“He created each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:10 MSG.)

“The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1 NIV.)