Monthly Archives: November 2015

ACT by REMAINING

Last weekend I was “handpicked” by God to attend a women’s retreat. My friend, Johnetta, had the task placed on her heart by God to have this, and unlike what I would likely do… she listened.   She knew God would hand-pick women to attend, and I am so blessed I was one of them. I honestly still get tears in my eyes from the experience. The numbers were not huge… but GOD WAS THERE!!! As we laughed, cried, laughed, sang, ate, fellowshipped, and shared in God’s love. Over and over in my mind, I have replayed the weekend. These three things are on replay. It wasn’t just one speaker, but the combination of speakers who chose different scripture from the Old and New Testament, that melded together…

BE STILL (when I Google Be still scripture, there are 36 incredible verses that come up) – my two favorites are

Psalms 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God

Exodus 14:14 – The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

For the last several weeks, I have started a new habit of prayer and often just being still. Almost every morning (sometimes evening and sometimes both), on my porch swing, I sit and pour out my praise and my heart.   I am still… I listen… I breathe… and my soul calms. It can last minutes or long stretches of time. I usually have a song come to mind and I sing with the deepest of my heart. I am changed. I think that change took me into last weekend like a sponge… ready to receive… without my typical mind wandering of all the other things I should be doing… In all honesty, I have sat in retreats and church and made my list mentally and on paper of all the things that needed done for the day. Not this one ….

I have learned stillness is vital to my life – for my spiritual and mental wellbeing. However, I have also learned I need more than just those few moments of stillness… I need to remain in them… In the promises… In the peace…

REMAIN

Being still is great. However, too many times the stillness was short term. I would then return to my every day life after that time and got pulled back in. Then life would get the best of me and I would return to be still for just a few moments. Last Saturday, I heard scripture I had heard a hundred times before… John 15:4-7: vs 4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” And it became part of life addition problem for me.

Being still is great – but I must remain there… For the last several weeks I have been blessed to re-center life. Most of the external factors of work, people, and appointments have been removed. I controlled the calendar and filled it with family, friends, and church. I find when issues or concerns arise, instead of worrying and dwelling on it, I become still. Still and my life were not words that would have been used in the same sentence. I think it is me learning to REMAIN in the stillness. REMAIN in HIM and not the craziness of the world. When I need to re-center life, I find me returning to the moments I had spent with Him that morning and the days before.

I think of all the people who have posted this month things they are thankful for. I love them! But after the month, many get back in their routines

Have you ever had an amazing moment / memory where you can close your eyes and visualize it? Well, my porch time has become that daily moment when all it takes is for me to close my eyes and I can return to that feeling I had while being still.   If I don’t have it that day, it is a little hard to re-center myself and a little easier to get pulled into the craziness of life and brought down by the worries of my heart.

He is ABLE

Ephesians 3:20 – 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

Hearing Priscilla Shirer speak on this scripture brought it to life for me. [That is how God works and why it is important that I keep reading and hearing His word.  “Old” scriptures can have new life based on the circumstances I am going through.] I tend to put God in a box. I pray to Him with a specific need, and wait (often impatiently) for the answer. Priscilla spoke of God being able to go beyond and beyond. All this time, I confined Him to my thoughts when He can go way beyond that, because HE IS ABLE! All this time, I didn’t even take things to Him because I didn’t want to burden Him, bother Him, rely on Him, wait on Him, and the list goes on. I kept many things in my own little ability, and think now how much more He could have done had I given it to Him. Definitely more than I did on my own!

I have been seeking God for direction in areas of my life. I went to scripture for answers (wow imagine that concept). I found several scriptures that my heart needed to read and put them in a collage picture on Facebook. Then I put what I had to do and His return on my investment. It is pretty amazing (and I only chose 13 scriptures of the 31,103 verses in the Bible).   [Great time investment to use Google to search for scriptures that lead me to more scripture than spending that time less wisely – ie facebook]

If I do 2 things – BE STILL (seek Him and listen) and REMAIN (trusting, waiting) [not my own pattern where being Still would be a few minutes and go on my way]

HE gives me 11 things (and there are many more in scripture) – PEACE, HOPE, FUTURE, WORKING things together for good, DIRECTION, ENDURANCE, STRENGTH, RENEWAL, NEW THINGS, COUNSEL, and going BEYOND BEYOND what I could do on my own….

 

BE STILL (Sheri) * this does not mean that I don’t do my part and just wait for Him to do everything – it’s seeking Him before the world and being quiet and aware enough to Him

+ REMAIN in ME (not in the world or your problems, Sheri!)

= 4 I AM ABLE (Beyond, beyond your imagination, Sheri!)

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ACT by RECEIVING (and it started with a cup)…

There is something I have a big problem with. It could be called many things – faith, trust, control. They really all wrap in one! My prayer life struggles.  I pray daily in conversation and thank him for his gifts and then give Him my list. I am not still and wait to hear Him back, to hear what He wants for me. After all, I had already given Him my list and usually instructed Him in what specifically I wanted. Prayers like please give Jim safety, be with my friend who had surgery heal her of pain, I am going into surgery give the Dr. wisdom. Yes, I say here is the person, here is their specific need. The irony is He already knows their need! He wants me to come to Him as a child with my small request, something as simple as their name, my needs, my hope, and MY PRAISE and then wait and listen and trust.

So, I struggle with the wait. After all, I just told Him exactly what I wanted, so it isn’t like He has to think about it. I did the problem solving for Him. Not only do I struggle with the wait, but I struggle with the answer is not the option I give him. I do not make my prayers multiple choice. I give one option. Now you see my struggle. I am sure, at least I think, I am not alone in this struggle.

I have refrained from starting to watch TV (except cartoon/ movie marathons with the kids) because I don’t want to get started on something I won’t have time to continue. Plus, I have always enjoyed listening to online videos from Christian authors, online sermons, etc….

One of the videos from speaker/authors I have listened to since being off was by Emily Freeman. She talks about how she holds an empty bowl while she prays – symbolic of having her heart empty and ready to receive. At first I thought… ok that’s different. Then soon thought what have I got to loose. I didn’t choose a bowl, but a new mug from an amazing friend that has one of my favorite verses on it… BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!!!   I struggle with BEING STILL and truly hearing. So for over a week, since I have heard this video, I have sat on my porch or a favorite recliner with my empty cup.

I honestly could just cry writing how this has changed me. I have cried during the silence of holding the empty cup. It truly was symbolic of how empty I felt, and didn’t even realize. Empty spiritually, because I have allowed life’s chaos fill all the crevices of my life and weigh me down. Usually when I pray, my crazy to do list goes through my head. But now that I hold an empty cup I sit and truly visualize me waiting to receive from Him. I give him my small list of maybe just someone’s name – He already knows the need…. I give him what is heavy on my heart and then just sit and breathe and wait for His peace. I am STILL! Sometimes a song may come to mind and I sing a verse. He wants my praise! So many analogies have come out of this empty cup time, of how I have pushed Him away with my business and the need for control.

  • When I hold up a full cup/calendar/mind, there is no room left for His will, for me to receive what He has for me. He knows the plans He has for me, but if I fill that with my plans, I miss out.
  • When I go to Him in a hurry to hand over my list of Dear Lord please bless…. Say amen… and carry on my day. He sits there waiting to hear the heart of His child.   It’s like asking your child “how was your day?” because you want to really hear and they say fine and go on to the next task. As a mom, I sit there wanting to really hear
  • He knows my needs. He wants me to bring them with full expectation of what He can do with the needs and leave them there. He can do so much more than I can on my own strength (but for some reason I believe my ways are better when scripture supports His ways are higher than mine).
  • When my heart is heavy and full He can’t pour into it…
  • When my hands are clutched He can’t fill them (and I can’t open them in praise).
  • At times I thought I should put names or needs in my cup, but again that doesn’t leave it empty for me to completely receive.

So tonight when I got an unexpected email, at first I was truly upset. It was a need I shared with Him over the empty cup. The email really upset me and I went into my typical mode of Why didn’t He answer it the way I expected. What am I suppose to do now? How can I fix this? (See the problem, I… I… I….) The chaos starts stirring and I struggle with faith, trust, and control. I wanted to cry because I wanted a different answer! I did start reacting and trying to fix it.… got a little angry at God… and then I started writing this blog. I am a writer at heart and use writing to empty my head / heart. Unfortunately, often I get so busy that I don’t write… which just keeps my head / heart full. When in reality that is when I should write more.

As I wrote the brewing slowed and the wrestling with God slowed (like I would win – lol). I then realized I needed to go to Him and pour out my heart. So, I paused my writing and grabbed my cup.  I turned out the light and just paused, laid out my heart to God, and relinquished my control. The irony is the door He closed tonight wasn’t necessarily the one I wanted to be opened. I went back to my old ways of fix it mode and not trusting and not being still. I got caught up in the instant disappointment (and anger) that a door was closed, without trusting the answer was the best for me.

Does the cup hold any of the answers. No! But my Heavenly Father does. If it takes a simple act of holding an empty cup to remind me to be ready to be still, to pause, and to receive… then I will hold the cup… and He will bless my willingness to finally come to receive. I will be the woman of the well… thirsty… seeking… waiting…. Receiving!

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!

Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;

Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more

Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!