Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Power from Awareness

Day 23 - Today I will be still so that I can be aware of your presence with me.

Impatience reared its ugly head again today.  But this time it was different.  I remembered yesterday and I took a moment to just stop and think.  Then I asked for the patience that was readily available for me.  Patience is a fruit of the Spirit.  And I have the Spirit - He is always, always with me.  So if I have the Spirit, I have patience.  The day went much easier after that realization.  Most of the time I'm just too busy to take a moment and realize that God is right here with me.  He is with me in the morning while I'm doing the dishes or dusting the furniture. He is with me when I have four screaming babies or 6 crying toddlers (or both!).  He is with me while I'm making dinner and waiting for Justin to get home.  He is with me...I just have to take the time to be aware...

Short and sweet.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Painful Healing, Truth, & Impatience

After a crazy week of sick coworkers and then sick me...I'm trying to get back on track.  Here we go!

Day 20 - Today I will take my wounds to Calvary.

Sunday was such a good for this challenge!  The service on Sunday included communion...which was a very good way for me to envision taking my wounds to Calvary.  Sometimes it isn't easy to be healed - having a bone set is rather painful, getting stitches - also painful, surgery - well that can be painful for awhile, and even with a small cut, it hurts to have the band-aid removed.  It seems that when there are injuries, pain comes right along with the healing process.  And that makes taking my wounds, whether self-inflicted or placed there by someone, a little difficult to take to Calvary.  Am I really prepared to face that pain?  Am I strong enough to survive it?  The questions that this devotion asked led me to a very interesting conclusion.  Guys LOVE to talk about how they got scars, they love to tell the story behind them!  Our wounds leave scars and scars mean stories.  It is completely up to us whether that story is one of destruction and defeat or one of beauty and victory.  I want my scars to be a beautiful story...and that is why during communion, I took them to Calvary and laid them at the foot of the cross.  God's mercy will heal my wounds (and yes, it will probably be a little painful) and the scars that are left behind will tell the story of Christ's mercy and grace and His awesome, awesome victory!

Day 21 - Today I will reaffirm my trust in the truth that you are my Deliverer.

I honestly didn't think much about this throughout the day yesterday.  But I think that after Sunday's challenge, I can rest assured in the truth that He truly is my deliverer.  And He will deliver me from my pain.

Day 22 - Today I will turn to you when emotions threaten to make me lose control.

I, again, didn't do so great with this challenge.  I completely forgot about it until about a half hour before my shift ended when I realized just how impatient I was today.  Sometimes working with 14 kids under the age of 2 can be a little stressful.  And trust me, a few of those kids really know how to test my patience.  I was talking to another teacher about how a particular couple of kids really drive me crazy sometimes and that I just didn't have the patience to deal with it.  And then my challenge hit me in the face.  "Bri!  You totally lost control today...and didn't even think twice."  And then I was a little more patient with that one child...  I just wish I could be a little more conscious of my emotions throughout the day.  *sigh*

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Day 19 - Today I will thank you for your love when I'm tempted to ask for answers instead.

The question "why?" is on the tip of our tongues whenever things get ugly.  I often wonder why certain things happen to me.  Why did I have to suffer with an undiagnosed health issue for so long?  Why did bad things happen during what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of my life?  Why me?  But that isn't what these answers are about.  This is more of the big stuff.  Why is their suffering?  Why is their evil?  I read this devotion this morning and couldn't think of something in my life where I needed to ask the bigger "why?"  But, again, I was looking to close to myself.

We were watching an episode of Bones tonight.  The investigation centered around a few soldiers who had spent some time in Iraq.  It turned out they had tried to cover up some friendly fire and the accidental murder of an Iraqi family (they thought they were insurgents).  The situation got Justin and I talking of the reality of those possibilities.  Our guys deal with enough without having to deal with friendly fire and killing innocent people.  Justin and I both know a few people who have served time in Iraq/Afghanistan and the things they have seen, the things they have dealt with...those things can't be erased from memory.  We came around to the subject of children, children are taught to fight in Iraq.  What does a soldier do when faced with a child aiming an AK-47 right at them?  It's a kill or be killed situation.  And it isn't fair.  I started to cry...children!  And it isn't just Iraq - I have read horror stories about children in Africa who had to kill their own families in brutal ways as their forced initiation into an army.  For a brief moment I let the thought cross my mind - Why God?  Why is this kind of thing allowed to go on?  Why are people so evil?  And then I stopped...No, I'm supposed to thank God for His love.  And I did.  "Thank you Lord for your love.  Without it, those children would have no hope.  Without Your love evil would triumph..."

I think I heard it said somewhere that faith isn't about dealing with the answers, it's about living with the questions.  And I can live with those questions when I know that God's love has prevailed, is prevailing now, and will ultimately prevail in the end.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dilemmas, Dilemmas

Day 18 - Today I will try to be aware of ways I'm still trying to earn your love.  I want to learn to rest in your grace.

Rest.  Does anyone in America truly know what that word means?  I'm not sure I do.  Even when I'm "resting,"  at the very least I'm making a to-do list in my head.  We are continually going, non-stop, all day long.  There are some days I wake up, get ready for work, do the dishes, update the budget, pack my lunch, vacuum, go to work, come home for my "break" which means unloading the dishwasher and putting away the dishes I did in the morning as well as writing out a few checks, then it's back to work, take laundry to laundromat, get home, clean up some clutter, go switch laundry to dryer, go back home, start dinner, go pick up laundry, finish dinner, fold laundry, eat dinner, start the grocery list/menu for the next couple of weeks, research moving companies, balance checkbook, go to bed...  The insanity is that I do this all of the time.  It isn't very often where I just sit in front of the TV and do nothing (and I'm sure this goes for many, MANY other people).  I always have to be busy.  My mind doesn't have a pause button.  In other words, I don't know what rest means.  This brings us to my first dilemma - how am I supposed to rest in God's grace if I don't know what resting even looks like?

Second dilemma - as Sheila Walsh notes, we (human beings) feel that we need to contribute in some way to anything that we receive.  We are receiving God's love, abundantly I might add, so we feel as if we need to contribute.  This looks different for each person - it may mean giving tithe and then some.  Or maybe it's spending every Saturday at the homeless shelter.  Or giving up something for lent.  Or, in my case, trying to maintain a picture of perfection.  Yes, I said it.  I am a perfectionist.  I want the vision people see of me to be a perfect one.  I don't want people to see me mess up, I don't want God to see me mess up.  But the fact of the matter is - I'm not perfect, I can't be perfect.  And if I think I can earn God's love through perfection, well then, I'm never going to earn it.

Yet then again...that's the whole point.  I can't earn God's love.  I already have it.  I have to stop trying to be perfect in order to earn His love.  If I mess up, from a simple slip to a huge mess, He is still going to love me because His love and my perfection are not connected.

So, in order to resolve my two dilemmas I have to simply let go.  I have to let go of this ideal of isn't going to happen on this earth.  And if I'm not trying so hard to be perfect (the perfect employee, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect friend...) then maybe I can sit back and actually rest for once.  Wait, what does that mean again??  : )  Just kidding.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of your grace.  It brings me joy and peace in knowing that I don't have do anything in order to earn it, I don't even have to lift a finger!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Day 17 - Today I will embrace my identity as a follower, a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I had this horrible gut feeling this morning as I read through my devotions that there isn't much in my life that visibly points to my identity as a disciple of Christ.  Yeah, I'm a fairly loving individual but so are a lot of other people...people that aren't disicples of Christ.  I vowed this morning to change that.

But once I got back into the craziness of work - 4 babies, 10 kiddos between the ages of 12 months and 20 months, and about 20 different problems...I forgot all about what I read this morning.  As I came home I took a  few minutes to relax before starting dinner...when I realized that I had again put my Christianity on the back burner.  It was then that I asked myself the question - what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?  It means to walk in His very footsteps.  Since I cannot physically do that without having a physical presence, what does that mean for me in the modern world?  It means to be like Him.  To do what He did, what He would have done.  I know it sounds cliche but what would Jesus do?  He definitely wouldn't talk to a co-worker about how another co-worker has seriously annoyed you.  He would try to understand what the underlying cause was in why the co-worker was annoying in the first place (aka...He wouldn't get annoyed).  He would have a better attitude about coming home to make dinner after a long stressful day at work.

I am supposed to be learning from a disciple.  The one thing I did do right today was read His word.  I read from John about remaining on the vine in order to bear fruit...(15:1-6).  God was definitely reiterating what I had read that morning.  I have to remain in Christ, I have to follow Him.  Obviously easier said than done.  But I'm ready to face tomorrow with the question on my mind: what would Jesus do?  I need to look to His example in all that I do, all that I say.  Maybe then people will be able to SEE that I am following in His footsteps.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All at Once Heads are Spinning...

Day 16 - Today I will meditate on your amazing, infinite, and unconditional love for me.

So the whole meditation thing didn't happen.  With only so many hours in the day and so many things to do I, unfortunately, tend to put meditation and quiet time on the back burner.  This is where the honesty things gets a little tough.  My priorities aren't always where they need to be.  As much as I want to and as much as I need to, time spent listening to God doesn't usually make the priority list.  I find it easy to make time during the day to read my devotional and the Bible at least once a day, if not twice...but it is VERY hard for me to just listen or meditate.  I can't sit still for more than 2 seconds (ask Justin, he says it is my most annoying habit).

However, I did spend some time in thought today among all of my business.  God loves me!  No matter what I've done, no matter what I do - He still loves me!  That love never wanes, never falters.  Through all of my ups and downs, my good days and my bad, He loves me relentlessly!  I know I relate a lot of things to songs but music has such a passion.  It brings real emotion to the surface.  Music is all throughout the is beautiful, powerful, and speaks to so many people in so many different ways.  Anywho...two songs come to mind.  First, "You Love Me Anyway" by the Sidewalk Prophets.  The chorus speaks of how we mess up but God loves us anyway - "But you love me anyway/ It's like nothing in life that I've ever known."  The full song can be found here.  Second - "Hurricane" by Samestate.  I just recently started hearing this on the radio and I absolutely love it!  God's love doesn't make any sense!  We haven't done a single thing to deserve it!  And the crazy thing - love still came!  Every time I hear this song I'm lost in awe at how wonderfully amazing God really is.  The lyrics to "Hurricane" can be found here and the song can be found here.

I hope for the few people that actually read this you take some time to ponder the awesome relentless love of Christ.  You may not deserve it, none of us do, but He loves you anyway!  Nothing you can do will ever, ever, EVER change that!  Isn't it wonderful??  I can't quit smiling if I truly focus on that fact!  :D

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I will...

Day 15 - Today I will choose to be open with a trusted fellow believer about one of my failures or weaknesses and let God minister to me through that person.

I knew this morning when I read this that I wasn't going to see very many people that this would include.  Yeah, my boss and one of the girls at work...but today was pretty time for serious conversation (which is pretty usual).  I thought about calling my mom or dad but phone conversations of that matter aren't as easy as talking to someone in person.  The obvious choice, even from the beginning, is my wonderful hubby.  But the fact of the matter is that my failure, my weakness, like I've mentioned before, is my lack of forgiveness.  And Justin doesn't exactly enjoy talking about that situation.

But I did mention it.  Before we started another episode of Bones on Netlfix, I mentioned that I needed to blog but that I hadn't done what I was supposed to which was talk to someone.  And then I continued to talk to him.  He didn't get upset or irritated at all.  You see, he also tends to struggle with the same thing.  He reminded me that we are supposed to support each other in our weaknesses.  God gave us each other for that purpose.  So not only does God have my back, Justin does too!  I can do this!  And as Justin reminded me, it is a process.  I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and completely forgive everyone for everything they've done...but if I continue to make a conscious choice, it will eventually become a habit, a truth.  I will forgive.

Sidenote - I am so very thankful for a husband who has been with me through some pretty hard times already.  Though he may get frustrated at moments, he has my back.  He would go to the end of the earth for me!  Every time I hear the song God Gave Me You, I get that giddy, girly grin.  I moved 1200 miles away and somehow God still gave me a wonderful, amazing man from home.  He knew just what I needed...even when I didn't.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Energizer Bunny

So yeah...I really slacked off this past week...or so...  *sigh*   I did just a couple of devos and exactly no blogs.  But I'm hoping to get back on track....with each of the aforementioned.

Day 14 - Today I will take another step toward forgiving someone I've struggled to forgive.

Apparently God is really wanting to work on this forgiveness thing with me...because it is probably the biggest struggle I have right now.  I do have to say, the bitterness is beginning to subside.  For that, I am much happier....literally.  Have you ever had that shirt where the tag just bugs the back of your neck all day long?  You scratch, you adjust, you do anything you can think of but it still just irritates the heck out of you?  Getting rid of bitterness is like getting rid of that tag!

Unfortunately, just because I'm not bitter does not mean that I have forgiven.  Through reading this devotion this morning I realized what is holding me back - I want justice.  But as Sheila Walsh puts it, "When we forgive...We realize that we won't find justice in this world - it doesn't live here."  I may not feel like forgiving because I don't think its fair.  Well guess what folks, as our parents have continually told us, "Life isn't fair!"  Forgiveness isn't a feeling, it's a choice.  But, oh, what a choice that is!  It isn't just a one time thing.  Choosing to forgive is a daily choice.  Yes, I have forgiven today...but tomorrow, when all of those hurtful thoughts and feelings resurface I have to choose to forgive again...and again...and again.

Today, I choose to forgive.  And hopefully tomorrow...and the next day...and the next day...and the next day...

Well, you get the point  : )