Go on and flourish

So much can affect our hearts without us realizing it…

For me, it was like a pit in my stomach. I knew it was there, yet I kept going back to it. I needed to see, as though making myself feel horrible was justified. I’d see someone else’s way of doing things, and immediately feel like my way was wrong. Like I was somehow less than because they seemed to have it together. “Seemed”.

As a new mom, this feeling really sprang to “life”. I wanted to follow other new moms and watch them mother. “Be inspired”. Well, no, that wasn’t the case. Because as I watched, I felt that yucky comparison bug creep up and begin to itch.

For example. A wonderful lady I followed on IG and had heard speak at a conference was finally pregnant after 10 years of trying and waiting. Amazing! As she shared online about having a journal for her soon-to-be-born son, that she would give him when he was 18, I immediately felt like I should be doing the same, when I wasn’t. What kind of mother AM I?!! I immediately felt like my mothering was less than, rather than celebrating a great idea and that another boy in this world will have a mom who adores him. Rather than being inspired and taking a great idea, I felt like I was doing it all wrong.

You see. Sometimes I look at social media for inspiration. When in actual fact, then, I was looking to it to somehow confirm what I felt. And the issue would just keep growing until I addressed it. I’ve had to stop following people. I’ve had to sit myself down for time-outs and really ask myself why I felt so threatened by someone else’s success. I’ve had to take complete breaks from social media altogether.

Bearing my sin and soul here… I wanted to be the best. At everything. Good grief, what pressure!!! You know that saying, that comparison is the thief of joy? So true. And rather than celebrating your success – as a mother, as an entrepreneur, as a wife, or as anything – I felt like it somehow took away from my own success and progress.

How wrong I was.

Maybe you need to hear what I needed to hear… Stop waiting for someone else’s permission to flourish. And start dealing with what limits you.  Comparison. Fear. Doubt. Perfectionism. Whatever it is. It’s time we start stepping out, celebrating other’s success, and cheering each other on! And letting yourself grow strong. Because I do believe that God loves to shine His strength through us.

The tides are turning in my heart. You know how I know?

…Because now as I watch young moms at the same stage as me, my heart is now rejoicing. Yay YOU! 

…Because I have exercised since January, sticking to my goal for the first time EVER, after seeing a great mom-preneur do it. I thought, Well, if she can exercise with all her to-do’s then so can I! And I now have muscles in places I never have. One year after having a baby!

…Because instead of feeling like someone else’s success impedes on my own, my heart is starting to shift to celebrate theirs.

…Because my husband and I laugh more, at ourselves, and each other, even in a season of unknown.

My heart is starting to see that I can be who God wants ME to be, and that if you are doing well, that in no way means that I am not!! Oh comparison thief, be gone! Only the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction and healing can do this.

If social media feels yucky for you. Take a break. If mine doesn’t inspire or challenge you, then please, stop following, and take a break! But if you feel like you can celebrate alongside me with my successes and vulnerabilities, then I welcome you here for the journey.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts, ABOVE ALL ELSE. Our hearts are the soil of our life. Make sure it’s fertilized well so the good seeds can grow.

And go on and be free to flourish. For His glory.

xo

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Roman Wind

Good morning! In my Facebook memory feed the other day was a reminder that it’s been five years since I was in Italy with a friend. I looked back on some of my writing and memories from that trip, and thought I would re-share an original post from here, called Roman Wind. Enjoy my little journey through Rome and what it taught me that day! (and boy does it make me want to pack up my little family and explore Europe!)

Bike, Rome, Italy

There’s this picture that I have framed at home that reminds me of a special day. A moment in time I will never forget. It’s a portion of a bike, the one you see to the left. Let me take you to that day …

I visited Rome, Italy with a friend last fall. We had six days filled with pizza, pictures, and people in masses. It. Was. Delightful!  On the final day my friend and I decided to go our separate ways for a few hours. I had been doing some research on Trip Advisor that week and REALLY wanted to rent a scooter. Hello Audrey Hepburn. I had envisioned a scarf-adorned up-do with large sunglasses and an ice cream cone in hand whilst whipping through Roman traffic. Well, not really. But the thought of driving a scooter in Rome sure appealed to me! Everything I read online however cautioned against Rome traffic with eager foreigners and I ultimately opted for safety over adventure.

Feeling a little bummed, I received a text from a friend in London about it all. He said the most brilliant thing that set me free to do what I pleased that final day. He said, “As long as you remember some things are coolest because Lani found them at 4:58pm with her own wind.”

It may not have been a scooter, but it did have two wheels, a basket and a dingling bell that made me smile! So, for several hours on that sunny Friday I was the happiest girl on a bicycle meandering Rome’s cobbled alleys as I passed pizzerias and leather shops.  I nearly hit several people in my glee-ish state, but I didn’t even care.  Scusi.

After I risked my life winding through some traffic, I decided I’d better stay on the quiet and narrow streets of Rome! During my bike escapade I stopped in Piazza Navona . This square of artists and musicians is surrounded by restaurants and the waiters stand outside, charming and beckoning you to enjoy their services. Cappuccino per favore.

I leaned my bike up to the restaurant while he steamed me a delicious beverage, and then took this photo. Coffee break, I call it.

I sat by the fountain outside the restaurant sipping my latte and enjoyed the live music. I was soon on my way towards the river, as that was my destination. After bartering for two purses with a persistent man on the bridge and nearly being attacked to purchase said purses, I turned around towards “home”.

On my way back to the bike rental place, I stopped in a leather shop and bought a purse. I was excited and savoured the Italian leather smell. About 20 minutes later, I stopped at a cash machine to get more Euro and as I reached into my backpack, my heart stopped. My camera was gone. My first thought, rationally lacking in rational, was that it had been stolen blind off my back. I kicked myself mentally and started saying “Jesus. Jesus. NO! My camera. Jesus.”  Glee was gone. My camera and the whole week of memories were ruined.

As I walked (yes, walked) my bike past the crowds surrounding the Pantheon, people stared. Mascara running in streams down my face no doubt. I returned the bike, paid my 10 euro reluctantly, and found my friend. As I talked through with her when I last used my camera, I remembered the leather shop and thought maybe, just maybe I had left it there.  To me it was a miracle, because half an hour later we retraced my sobbing steps back to the leather shop, and lo and behold there was a relieved sales lady holding my camera.  How we ever found our way back there is beyond me. Thankful for honest Italians, we hit up an espresso bar and ate some chocolate. As you do😉

I had found a piece of my own wind on the bike that day. I nearly lost my wind on the bike that day. And I believe God led me right back to where I needed Him to … on that day.

That day two wheels and a map of Rome, with no specific plan, will stick with me always.

You know, I think God sets in each of our hearts little things just like that. That makes us smile. It’s like a little gift meant just for us.

Psalm 139 talks all about how He has intricately woven our hearts, and knows our every thought.  He says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are deeply known and created with such love and intent, that I think it’s a shame if we live our lives with the wind knocked out of us.

That bike picture will always be a reminder to follow my heart and of my God that sees much more than my eyes can see.

Whether it’s meandering happily on a bike, or something else that you need to find that makes you smile like it does for no one else, then do it! Try new things. Because I believe that even along the way, God is with us in that pursuit and makes it so memorable.

Monday Minute: Bowed or flustered?

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The day was like any other – the sisters were hosting, yet again. They’d become known for it – the way they made people feel at home in their home. It was a gift. Yet on this particular day, the guest was unlike any other. Not ordinary; it was Jesus.

Martha was busy in the kitchen – distractedly serving and getting everything ready for the evening meal. While Mary was enraptured in the sitting room, hanging by every word that fell from the lips of Jesus.

Frustrated, Martha marches out of the kitchen. Her tight bun was now loose, mousy brown hair everywhere. Remnants of flour and oil remained on her clothes. Sweat dripped from her well-formed brow.

Knowing He carried weight with her sister, and knowing He always hears her, Martha spoke up.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” Hands flying everywhere, and then finally resting exhausted at her side, as though ready to collapse.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

***

What I love about how Jesus relates with these sisters, is that He always has compassion – on both of them. Citing Martha’s name twice usually means He’s trying to get her attention, but also doing so lovingly. The Bible said she was “distracted with much serving”. In the Message version, it says in vs 38, “A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.”

Usually Martha can get picked on in this text. But never once does Jesus reprimand her or make her feel badly – He kindly and lovingly points to the better way. Clearly Martha was gifted in the areas of homemaking.

If I knew Jesus was coming, I would’ve been fussing about getting the home ready as well – just like Martha. But Mary, bless her heart, decides to sit at Jesus’ feet, in His presence.

At first glance, from the perspective of someone like Martha, this looks lazy and uncaring. But even amongst all the doing and serving to be done, she still ‘chose well’ –to listen and be still.

Mary’s position was bowed and waiting, Martha’s position was flustered and distracted.

How real can this be of our hearts? I can sit down to spend time with the Lord and a million things run through my mind of what to do next (and we don’t even have kids yet!). I think what Jesus was saying was – even amongst the distractions and all the things you need to do (good things, real life things), choose a bowed position of heart, and I will meet you there.

As we enjoy this Christmas season, I hope I can still the distractions, and sit at Jesus’ feet more. Whether it’s while doing dishes or driving to do errands, I want to be more conscious of the position of my heart this season – am I bowing and waiting, or am I flustered and distracted?

Monday Minute: Prayer: It’s not about you. But it will change you.

I recently listened to a message on prayer by Timothy Keller, in which he talked about praying the Psalms. How the book of Psalms shows us all the different ways we can pray and how we can understand God’s heart even more through. Keller questions, has the Spirit of God really come to live and reside within us and transform us, if we aren’t drawn to pray? Troy and I are both reading his latest book, Prayer, and it’s now absolutely on the list of must reads!

I don’t know about you, but I can sit down to do a block of writing or prayer and suddenly that thing I had forgotten earlier now comes to mind. I get an idea for something that I am certain can be found on Pinterest. Or our budget and grocery list suddenly floods my mind. Yep. Distractions are everywhere, and they’re one of those pesky little things you can find without even looking for them.

quote-to-be-a-christian-without-prayer-is-no-more-possible-than-to-be-alive-without-breathing-martin-luther-king-jr-102531It seems like it should be a given. Simple. A no-brainer. As believers, we should be praying. Prayer is the gateway to which we really come to know God, and come to understand the identity we have in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

For many years, prayer for me was more something I checked off a list. I felt good if I did 20 minutes. An hour made me feel really good. Because prayer was about making me feel like a good Christian, and that because of my time invested, God would give me what I asked for. I’m saddened to say that at times, seasons of increased time in prayer was more out of desperation than desire to KNOW Him better. But the last 2-3 years, God has been refining me, my motivations. Ah, convicted!

I feel drawn. Thirsty. I want to know my Father’s heart deeper, and now I feel surrounded by good teaching on prayer to guide me. So, I just want to share with you!

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscientist, says that it has been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over an 8-week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan. Time in God’s presence actually changes us.

Two things I have drawn from recent listening and reading on prayer that might help you in your quest to drawer closer to God and understand His heart more clearly:

  • Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, formal, or long to be heard. Matthew 6:7-9 shows that it isn’t about performance, length, or comparison. Which shows the motivation behind our praying is actually more important than what we say or how we say it. Jesus gives us a guideline in that chapter through the Lord’s prayer, that I think is amaaaaazing! Timothy Keller also preaches on this and it’s helped me understand where my prayer life was so lacking. (some parentheses are my own interpretation of each line, as well as what he teaches)

Our Father in heaven (starts with knowing our relationship/adoption with God as our Father)

Hallowed be thy name (adoration, worship)

Thy Kingdom come (God’s rule sovereignty)

Your will be done (God’s purpose)

On earth as it is in heaven (pray big!)

Give us this day our daily bread (provision, needs)

And forgive us our debts (repentance)

As we have forgiven our debtors (mercy)

And lead us not into temptation (deliverance, strength)

But deliver us from evil (victory!)

Notice the way Jesus taught us to pray begins with knowing our Father and His nature, and through that we have the ability to worship, ask, repent, and walk in victory!

  • I need to know my Father’s heart, as that affects every other area of my life. And a good place to start, is the Psalms. I’ve been reading in Psalms, so now I have started a part of my journal where I write down characteristics of God as they jump out at me from chapter to chapter. For example, “He guides us with counsel” (Ps 73:24), “He is a sun and a shield” (Ps 84:11), or “He is good and his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps 100:5).

For me, and likely for you too, when I write things down, and then think and meditate on them, they go from my head to my heart. Timothy Keller says, “Prayer is not merely a way to get things from God, but a way to get more of God himself. God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.” Because He is a good, good, Father. 🙂

So take these two examples of things I am learning:

*Use the model of the Lord’s prayer as a guide. Prayer is not about reciting a laundry list to meet my needs and get what I want. But it’s ultimately about learning HIM. Yes, we are to ask (Matthew 7:7). But ultimately, when we know God’s heart better, those needs are more freely given into His hands when we do pray.

*Try your own way of writing down and meditating on God’s character. Write it in your phone or journal, or Bible even. Think on it. And let the understanding of the grace and greatness of God really go from your head to your heart. He wants us to KNOW Him!

 

Have a great week! We leave for holidays tomorrow for two weeks…VERY excited!

 

Monday Minute: Look. Consider. Seek.

If you google the most amazing places in the world, many of them are off the beaten track; hidden walkways, waterfalls, mountains. Secret places that God has given unimaginable beauty.

Check out these few…

Wisteria Flower Tunnel, Japan

Wisteria Flower tunnel_Japan

 

Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
Tunnel of Love_Ukraine

 

Mount Roraima, Venezuela/Brazil/Guyana

Mount Roraima, Venezuela:Brazil:Guyana

 

Bamboo Forest, Japan

Bamboo forest_JapanLast week I was reading Matthew 6, and since it’s all in red (Jesus speaking) I tried to read slowly. Digest it. The portion from verse 25-34 is one that has often been preached on, ‘don’t worry’!

We are admonished to not be anxious; and if you look at nature, God clearly loves to ‘take care’ of that which He created. Anxiousness in itself is a sign that some part of our heart has yet to be redeemed and transformed by the gospel. There’s something we are still holding tightly to.

As I read this, I saw three things that Jesus directs us to do with our hearts, instead of being anxious:

  • ‘Look’ at the birds of the air, vs 26

So I asked myself, ‘how many kinds of birds are there in the world?’

This site says:

“The answer to that is about 10 thousand. Several of these kinds, or species, are numbered over 3 billion in the world. There are lots of kinds of birds that are very common, including some sea birds that spend their whole lives flying around the ocean except when they are having babies on some tiny island. That makes them very hard to count correctly. All together the total number of wild birds in the world is somewhere between 100 billion and 400 billion! The fact that there is such a big difference in those numbers shows how hard it is to count them all.”

And God takes care of THEM ALL.

Look at the unfettered way He tends to the millions of birds. They are fed. Cared for. Provided for.

Look. God will provide.

  • Consider the lilies, vs 28

According to this site, there are over 300 kinds of lilies around the world. They don’t toil or spin (vs28). And even King Solomon, in all his splendor, was not arrayed like one of these (vs29). Lilies show up. Shine. And they are one of the most beautiful and fragrant flowers out there.

Considering, also, is a position of the heart. Consider the outward appearance that is obtained without toiling or spinning, but being.

Consider. He makes all things beautiful in time.

  • Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, vs 33

Seeking the Lord first, is also an outward action that requires a certain position of the heart. With all the distractions we have these days, it can be difficult, but if the Lord asks us to do something, then we know He provides a way to do so as well.

Seek. Him first, always.

For Troy and I, there are some unknowns in our future, and these verses were such a good reminder for me!

Don’t be anxious, fuss, toil about tomorrow.

Look. Consider. Seek.

Because God loves to make even secret places beautiful!

Happy Monday!