Life in all its fullness

I’m kinda on this kick where I’m REALLY into de-stressing my life.  De-cluttering my life, De-overcommitment-ing my life (not a real word).  Basically taking some serious time to look at all the small and great details of my life, and pray over them, asking God, “Do I really need this in my life?  Is THIS what you want me doing right now?” Sometimes God calls us to do stuff.  Good stuff, fun stuff, God stuff – whatever.

But then sometimes we find ourselves doing too much stuff.

I know I’m doing too much stuff when I stop really listening to his voice.  If I am running around all day, from one thing to the next, trying to be somewhere on time, letting someone down by being late, feeling as if there aren’t enough hours in my day to get stuff accomplished, I know I’ve stopped listening and I’m no longer hearing God’s voice super clearly.  I think I know how to run my own life even though it’s riddled with stress.

God is not at the center of stress.  He is at the center of peace.  God is a God of peace and he doesn’t abide in stress.  He just doesn’t live there.  So if I’m choosing to live there – I’m choosing NOT to live or abide with him.  It’s not like he ever leaves me, but when I walk away from him towards stress and overcommitment land, I can’t hear his voice so good when he speaks to me, because I’m not close to him.  Recently, I’ve felt him leading me back to him, back to peace.

Yesterday I was running late.  I was trying to get the kids ready for preschool, I slept in (my favorite treat to myself) and one thing led to the next where I found myself trying to rush out the door.  I had the whole car packed with all three kids (a task in itself), my keys, purse and water, and then I realized I hadn’t made a latte.  I know, first world problem, but I had the almond milk in the fridge and I figured since I was already late, I may as well enjoy my late drive to preschool with a latte in hand – I’m trying to relax more even in the stressful moments and not worry about the little details, like being on time;-)  I had already opened the garage door to head out when I made the split decision to go back inside.

Now, normal Rebekah would have left the garage door open with my kids, keys and purse in the car because normal Rebekah believes she lives in a pretty friendly neighborhood.  BUT, I heard a different voice.  The still, small, very, very, quite voice in the back of my head said, “shut the garage door.”  That’s it.  I have learned to listen to this still, small, very, very, quiet voice.

I shut the garage door.

I left the kids to sing and entertain themselves in relative safety while I ran inside to make a quick latte.

Within 30 seconds, my husband says from upstairs, “there’s someone coming to the door, let me answer it” in a serious voice.  I THOUGHT he said, “there’s a burglar coming to the door let me answer it.” I REALLY heard burglar.  So I stayed where I was and listened intently slash told Jesus I was concerned.  The guy sounded sketchy and was asking if so-and-so were home, and pretended he was sorta a contractor or something.  When my husband asked him the address he was looking for, he couldn’t even answer the question.  He had been standing across our street, staring at our house “talking” on a cel phone while his bud was skateboarding up and down our neighborhood streets.  They had a bunch of random stuff in the back of their truck, a kids bike, a table saw – an array of looked to be stolen goods.  I know it’s like, innocent until proven guilty, but I felt like the guy coming to our door was not up to any good.

It was at this moment that I said to the Lord, “Thank you Jesus for making the suggestion to close the garage door.”  My three babies were all strapped into their car seats in an unlocked car with my keys and purse on the passenger seat.  And yet they were perfectly safe because God recommended I do something as simple as close the garage door.  I was so glad I was listening.

Sometimes the enemy plans stuff to harm us, and sometimes God says, “nope.”

I believe this is because we pray and ask him.  We seek him for his will, ask him for his provision and protection.

There have been times where the enemy had plans to harm me, and God said, “nope” and I didn’t listen.  I was too busy.  I thought I knew how to run my life.  I wasn’t as interested in God’s suggestions.  I look back in regret that I didn’t listen to his voice.

It’s not that I wouldn’t hear him, I would only half listen.

I used to run at night.  My parents always told me not to run at night.  But being 17 and in high school, I did it anyway.  One night in particular, I could hear a voice almost YELLING, “do not go running tonight , especially in that tiny little tank top.” I remember it was only around 6:30 pm but it was dark and there was a light drizzle.  I said, “fine, fine, I’ll go put on a long sleeve shirt.” But as I continued to run, although more clothed, the voice persisted, “do not go running tonight, go home.”  It kept insisting, I couldn’t shake it.  I finally said, “Hey voice, I KNOW what I’m doing in my life, I KNOW I live in a safe place, nothing bad will ever happen to me! Relax! I’ve got this.”

So I went running that night with intention.

And I was attacked.

It was on a normally busy street, but I was completely alone, in the dark between streetlights.  A man came up behind me.  I only heard three footsteps before he grabbed me by the waist tight with both arms.  At first I thought it was a friend joking.  I can’t explain the fear and absolute clear understanding that I COULD NOT help myself when I realized it was not a friend and that there was not a soul around to help me.

I remember looking up to the night sky and realizing only God could help me.  He was the only one who saw.

I screamed to him twice, with everything inside of me.  I screamed for him to help me.

And He did.

He saved me that night.

He rescued me.

The man let go and looked like he was hit in the face with a bat.  He stumbled around confused, with his face towards the ground.  I didn’t wait to see if he was alright, with adrenaline pulsing through my veins I sprinted all the way home to my front door where I collapsed in the foyer of my house.  I still say an angel hit him in the face with a 2×4, but that’s just my own idea;-)

It took me months to feel okay by myself even in the safety of my own house.  I don’t believe God wanted me to have that terrifying experience or even have to walk through the aftermath of it.  I believe he was trying to keep me from that danger all together.  But I didn’t listen.  I thought I knew better, I was literally running my own life.

And even though I didn’t listen completely to his voice, he still protected me.  That my friends is God’s true grace.

Despite the bad press God gets in this world, He actually wants good for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  So God is speaking this to a repentant Israel in this passage, but it applies to us as well.

It’s the enemy who wants to opposite.  In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”  Jesus actually desires for us to have life, and have it to the full.  In fact that is precisely the reason he went to the cross, on his own will.  How incredible.

When I think about this, I juxtapose it against my own idea of what I think God wants for me: working for him, being perfect, getting it all right, earning his love and grace.

It doesn’t line up.  I am STILL, after being a Christ follower for almost 30 years trying to get it into my head who God really is, and what he REALLY wants for me and from me.

I don’t think God wants us experiencing even a tenth or a millionth of the pain and frustration we experience, it’s just that I don’t think we are really listening to his guidance on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s his voice telling us to forgive someone, to really forgive and hand the pain and hurt over to him. Other times it’s his voice reminding us to slow down and jut trust him, or to not be completely selfish and give some of what we have to others in need.

He speaks all kinds of stuff- and what he says to me, might not be the same message he’s giving you.

This is why he calls us to a personal relationship with him.  Not an “I go to church on Sunday and hear what the preacher says” kind of thing.  Don’t get me wrong, God speaks through the preacher, but God has more detailed, more intimate stuff to share with you.  Most of it probably revolves around how much he loves you and wants good stuff for you life.  Some of it might be conviction to give up something you’re holding onto that’s not good for you.

I don’t know exactly what he wants to speak to you – but if you listen, I can promise with my own life learned experience, that you will have more of what Jesus said he wants for you, to have “life in all its fullness.”

Who doesn’t want that?  Isn’t that what we’re all striving after anyway?

As always, thanks so much for reading.

Hot Dog Stand

So occasionally the Lord speaks to me.  It’s not an audible voice.  It’s almost always a picture in my mind, followed (usually) an explanation of what it means and clarification for whom the Word is for.  That may sound crazy-timez to you.  But that’s okay.

In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, the Aposotle Paul gives the deets on the different kinds of spiritual gifts.  He lists off quite a few, some of them being the, “the message of wisdom, message of knowledge, faith, and prophecy.”

Anyways, like I said, occasionally God speaks to me.  He will totally speak to you too if you ask Him.  For reals.

When I was in fourth grade, I started reading the bible.  I would read four chapters a day, because that’s what my mom did, so I thought that’s what all christians did.  I don’t even do this now, but how cool was my fourth grade year?  In fact I read four chapters a day for about ten years.  In fourth grade I learned that King Solomon was the richest dude in all the land.  I thought that sounded nice.  Plus he saved babies by not cutting them in half (1 Kings 3:16-28 for that CAH-Razy story).  I thought he was pretty legit, so I decided to do what he did so I could become like him.  So, I asked God for wisdom.  I think I prayed this every day for over a year.  I wanted to be awesome too.  What I really wanted was God’s blessing on my life, in in my fourth grade mind that meant riches and saving babies.

All I’m saying is that if you ask God for something that He wants to give you, He’s going to follow through on it.  I believe He gave me wisdom because I asked for it, and He continues to give me info that is wise, because I keep asking for it and believing that He will tell me what I need to know.

(super side note: right now my children are suppos-to be sleeping for naps, my son currently is mimicking a howler monkey from his bed… but I digress)

Like I was saying, sometimes when I ask God about something, He gives me a word picture answer in prayer.  Like instantly.

Today he gave me a hot dog stand.  I thought it applicable to anyone who is an attempted overachiever, type A, or grasper of control in any form (be it sock organization or world domination, either way)

hot dog stand

So, I can’t guarantee that this word is for you, since I was asking Him about me, but you can pray on it and decide for yo-self.  There just might be truth in it for you.

Here’s the word:

Picture a hot dog stand in some chill city (like Seattle or San Diego), with a lady running the stand.  Everyone that comes up to the stand is on vacation or lunch break, so they are feeling pretty chill.  They are here to get their tasty food, and then walk on to enjoy the sights or whatever.  There’s even a section on the stand for mustard, ketsup, relish and napkins.  KUH-Lassie.

The weird part is, the lady running the hot dog stand thinks she is running a restaurant, like – be seated by the host, sit down and order, pay a tip kind of place.  With chairs.

She keeps trying to get relaxed vacationers to sit in lawn chairs in an organized fashion on the street.  She can’t imagine why they won’t listen and are so chill about just moving on.  She’s stressin’ about details that aren’t even real!  And people are sorta wondering what her deal is.

I am totally that hot dog stand lady.

Perhaps my poor husband and kids are my customers in crazy town, confused by why I won’t just serve them a dog with a smile, keep the ketchup dispenser clean and chill out to enjoy my easy job.

Compared to running a restaurant, a hot dog stand (I would imagine) is a cinch!  Hot dog stand lady is making her life way more work then it needs to be, she should just chill out, serve some tasty dogs and read a magazine, or listen to music while she waits out the lull between customers.  Then close up shop around 2pm and head on home.  No floors to sweep or anything!

Here is how this word applies to me, and perhaps has some relevance for you (or hopefully not and you’ve already got this):

God keeps reminding me, when I get stressed in my mom/wife/homemaker world to just chill.  I tell Him I will chill once everything is done.  Everything being: laundry, clean house, budget organized, all house projects completed, not a spec of dust anywhere – not even in the garage, everything in it’s place, children are now perfect and do not scream like howler monkeys during their nap time, et-cetera…)

So, that will never happen.  But I try to make it happen.  Every day.  And I get NO WHERE.  Actually, that’s not true, I VISIT CRAZY TOWN.  And I totally drive myself there, probably with a gps and printed directions and a best time to beat with no traffic and stoplights.  It’s insane.  And expensive.  It cost me my joy.  It makes me grouchy.  Like public restroom with twin toddlers grouchy (post coming on that soon to even out this seriousness).

Someone help me.

God is helping me.  I need to let Him.

You know what’s super sad?  This is my fast.  Our church is doing a 40 day fast in preparation for a Prayer and Healing Night in September and I felt like the Lord asked me to fast my agenda, and the idea that I can or should accomplish everything under the sun in one day, when I’m responsible for three little humans all day.  And when I don’t I feel like a HUGE fail.  So it’s like a fail fast.

The fast He put before me has no boxes to check either, and you know how much that bothers me?  SO MUCH.  How will I know I did it if there isn’t a box to check off at the end of the day?  Ahhhh!!!  I will have to check-in with Him instead.  In fact, I’ll have to be checking in with Him all throughout the day as I surrender over all the little moments I try to run a restaurant from a hot dog stand.

So, I am fasting “being a crazy hot dog stand lady”.  At least now it’s clear and has a catchy title.

I will update you on how awesome my life becomes when I start serving hot dogs  and stop trying to run a restaurant on the street.

Thanks for reading.