Eat your vegetables, and then you can have dessert.
It is mantra of moms everywhere. The plate is colorful with broccoli, carrots, corn, and a side of cornbread. Oh, and don’t forget the meatloaf. Definitely eat the meatloaf! And if you eat all of everything that is on your plate, then you can have dessert.
It is bribery of the highest order. That delicious coconut cake is sitting in the corner, calling my name, tantalizing me so much that my mouth waters just looking at it. But, in order to get to that little slice of heaven, I must wade through the green, orange, and yellow on my plate. Every bite of those vegetables is a little bit of torture for a girl with an incurable sweet tooth. Yet, because I am a Type A who has to do everything well and right, I rip my gaze from the coconut cake and focus on the vegetables and meat loaf. Let’s get ‘er done!
Meatloaf. Check! Check! (I do love me some good meatloaf.)
Now, the pièce de résistance. Coconut cake!
For a girl who is very much a productivity addict the idea of ‘finish your vegetables before you eat dessert’ can be crippling?
Oh, I see you frowning and wondering how I turned vegetables into a handicap. Let me explain.
As you know, if you have been around these parts for more than a few days, I am on a journey toward rest (it was my OneWord 2016) and observing Sabbath regularly. Part of that journey is navigating the tension of completing my checklist of things to do each week before my Sabbath begins on Saturday evening. I’m doing really well at it now, but that has not always been the case. You see, as a productivity junkie I reasoned that there were things that needed to be accomplished (i.e., all the veggies eaten) EVERY. SINGLE. DAY or the world might implode! So, while I desperately needed a day to rest (coconut cake), the veggies that needed eating (tasks on my to-do list) never ended. Which meant that I never set aside a day to rest (enjoy my piece of coconut cake).
Is that clear as mud? What I am trying to say is that the eat-your-veggies-before-you-eat-cake principle works well with a child, but for an adult with a need to always be productive, it doesn’t work so well. There has to be a point at which I say, ‘enough veggies!’ and settle down to enjoy my coconut cake.
May I share with you the part of all of this that makes me clap my hands in praise to my Jesus?
When I am obedient to carve out that Sabbath rest, the world does not implode, nor does my to-do list become an unmanageable Goliath. In fact, quite the opposite takes place. I am much more able to do what needs to be done in six days, and I do it with a greater measure of peace than I had when I was frantically striving seven days a week.
No one on the planet has ever had a greater agenda and to-do list than God:
Monday – Create light
Tuesday – Create the heavens
Wednesday – Create the earth and the seas, plants and trees
Thursday – Create the sun, moon, and stars, and set the seasons in order
Friday – Create sea animals and birds
Saturday – Create livestock, beasts of the earth, creeping things (eekk!), and Man
Then, on Sunday, the seventh day, God blessed His work and rested. If God decided to rest on the seventh day, who in the world am I to decide that I do not need rest? The Sabbath is for me, not for God, because He knew that I would need that rest. And oh, how desperately I need it! I need that time to slow down so that I can hear His voice in the stillness and silence of rest. I need that time for my physical body to decompress and relax. I simply need that time…..and so do you!
I want to encourage you to make Sabbath rest part of your week. I promise you will be glad you did.
Tell me about your Sabbath observance. How do you prepare? What does it look like?
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
I am linking to two books that have been great influences on my life this year in regard to making good choice and to observing a Sabbath rest. I hope you will check them out!
I just decided to go ahead and throw it right on out there in the beginning. I’m NOT a marriage expert. In fact, I probably need as much help in the marriage department as the next person. I got an ‘F’ in marriage the first time around. I was young (21) and dumb and needy and sick. Very sick! I had no business saying I do at that time, but it seemed easier than saying ‘I don’t’. So I did. What a mistake!
Fast forward to me at the ripe old age of 30. I said ‘I do’ again. This time I made a better choice, but still I went into marriage with unrealistic expectations and unexplored issues. Lord, help me, did I have issues! And because we did not seek pre-marital counseling I lived with those expectations and issues for a very long time. I thought my marriage would be like that of my parents, but what never hit me until recently is that Greg and I are not Wayne and Barbara. We have different personalities, needs, expectations, and desires than my parents had. Why that never clicked with me blows my mind, but alas, it did not.
One of the chapters in this book is about reading great books. Ingram offered several books that have impacted his life. One of those was a book about communication in marriage. In the moment I read what Ingram wrote about the book, the Holy Spirit urged me to immediately order it, because who doesn’t need better communication in their marriage, right? Communication: Key to Your Marriage by H. Norman Wright is the book, and I will shamelessly give you my affiliate link to the book’s page on Amazon. I want you to order it if you are married or want to be married. Do it now! You will not be sorry.
Friends, this book has rocked my world. It took me two solid weeks to get past the first chapter. Not because the reading is hard, (it is not), but because the material stopped me dead in my tracks and gave me so much to ponder. The first words in Chapter 1 are “Why did you marry?” As if that was not enough, in the same first paragraph Wright asks this question, “What did you expect from marriage?” Two weeks, people! Two weeks it took me to work through those two questions. Then on page 3 I find this:
Commitment is more than maintaining; it is more than continuing to stick it out and suffer with a poor choice of a spouse. Commitment is investing–working to make the relationship grow.
Before you assume I made a poor choice in a spouse, please hear me loud and clear, I DID NOT. Greg is a wonderful husband. He may think he made a poor choice in a spouse, but I clearly out kicked my coverage when I married Greg. What got me from that quote is that all too often husbands and wives just stick it out rather than invest in their marriage. I want to invest in my marriage. I want to up the level of our communication and make our marriage even better. I want the next 22 years to be even better than the past 22 have been.
If I could give every married and planning-to-be-married couple a copy of this book, I would. It is that good, y’all….or maybe I am just that slow of a study when it comes to marital communication. There are some young couples in my sphere of influence who will be walking down the aisle soon and you better bet your sweet bippy that I will be giving them a copy of this book.
This book by Emerson Eggerichs is another one that I recommend and will be giving:
If you feel like you are talking to an alien when you talk to your spouse, if you feel like your husband never listens to you, if you feel like your man never shares his feelings with you, if you just have a desire to have a better marriage, then Communication by Wright is for you. Order it today!
I know there are other wonderful books on marriage and communication out there. I would love to hear your recommendations for books about marriage and/or communication. This is truly one way we can be iron sharpening iron for each other.
I don’t know about you, but for me, it is so easy to fall into the world’s line of thinking.
I got mine, you get yours.
It’s all about me.
What’s in it for me?
Problem is, for a Christian, this way of thinking is completely contrary to what Jesus taught. It is also contrary to what I had modeled for me growing up. Although I never fully realized the scope of what my parents did for others until they were gone, I knew they were generous toward those who were in need…both in the body of Christ and outside of it.
At my Daddy’s funeral, my Mother, Sister, and I greeted hundreds who came to pay their respects. Over and over people told us how my Daddy had helped them.
He paid my house payment when I was about to lose my home.
He came to my appliance store, bought a refrigerator, and told me where to deliver it. But he said that I was not to tell the recipients who provided it.
When my electricity was about to be cut off, he paid my bill.
He bailed me out of jail when I made a poor choice.
Then, when my Mother died, many shared similar stories of her love and generosity.
These testimonies, and so many more, were evidence of Romans 12:13 in the life of my parents.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I love the reminder offered by John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Romans.
The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward.
It is true. The life modeled after Jesus is not a life of selfish ambition, but one of self-less sacrifice and offering.
Billy Graham said:
The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.
As I think about the life that Jesus lived, I see a life of service and hospitality to others:
He restored life
He ate with the outcast
He never heaped shame on those who sought Him out
He took my place on the cross and paid the fine for my sin
So, really, how can I justify being selfish and self-serving? Everything I have…my body, my money, my talents, my time, my home, everything…..is on loan to me from God. None of it is really mine, so if the Jesus-life tells me to be generous in giving and hospitable to others, how can I do otherwise?
The question then becomes whether the flow of my life is outward or inward. It is the question for your life, as well.
Outward or Inward?
One of the ways I seek to help women develop that outward flowing life is to encourage them to walk more intimately with Christ. September 15-17, 2017 the Come Away retreat for women will offer ladies an opportunity to lean into Jesus in a beautiful, relaxed setting. In our world of constant stimulation and social media, one must be intentional in their pursuit of Christ. Come Away with Jesus for a weekend! Click HERE to learn more.
Every week I am privileged to spend an hour or so of private time with my pastor’s sweet wife, Becca. We talk, we share, we cry, we pray, we simply do life together. She is young enough to be my daughter, and I love her as if she were. She is a beautiful, honest, all-out-crazy-for-Jesus young woman. Her heart is very much for seeing those who do not know Jesus come to Him, and she is a blessing to me in a dozen different ways.
Recently we were talking about how God’s plans often end up looking very different from the plans that we make for our life. I shared with her how true that is for me, especially in regard to ministry.
I told her that when the Lord called me into ministry in 2007, He made it so clear that I was to speak and teach God’s Word. He confirmed it through several avenues, and so I stepped boldly into that calling. To be very transparent, I secretly hoped I would be the next Christian teacher ‘star’….’the next Beth Moore’, as so many told me at my speaking engagements. I know….ten years into this wild ministry ride, I see how ridiculous and prideful that sounds, but I’m just being honest with you.
For about seven years all of my dreams seemed to be on track. I spoke at ladies events all over the southeast. I was blessed to write and publish four books. Ministry life was good and going according to ‘my plans’. I held on tightly to a quote I read on a flip calendar somewhere. It said something like this: It can take ten years to be an ‘overnight sensation’.
As Becca and I talked, I shared with her that when my ministry began to change, at first I was not happy with God about it. I saw other speakers going on to bigger and better things, while God seemed to be drawing down my ministry. Oh, He was not pulling me out of ministry. Rather, He was changing what ministry looked like for me. Instead of the big stage, it was more one-on-one and small group ministry. Instead of preparing messages to be delivered to a few hundred women, I was pulling together ingredients for making biscuits and pound cakes and chicken and dressing. Instead of spending time writing more books, I am spending face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder time loving on, mentoring, and doing life with women. And you know what, now I love it and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
I had a choice about how I would respond when God changed up ministry. I could have been angry with Him and pouted. (yeah, that would have worked out well!) I could have been jealous over the speaking opportunities and book contracts that other people received. (hmmm, that would have been pretty!) Instead I bent my knee to God’s plan and have found incredible peace and satisfaction in ministry. Don’t misunderstand me, there were fleeting moments of ‘why, God?’ questions and green-with-envy jealousy, but those were only for a moment. I knew that God sees the big picture, and whatever He ordains for me is for my good and for His glory. I realized that to grasp for anything else is relational suicide as far as my relationship with God goes.
Sometime after Becca and I shared that conversation I received a text from her that made my heart so full of love for her and gratitude to God for how He is allowing me to serve His kingdom.
I love you so much, Leah. I’m so, so, so, so thankful God didn’t make you the ‘next Beth Moore” because our time on the porch feels like the closest thing to Heaven on earth to me. I am so glad you’re in my life. Thank you.
I do not always do life and ministry perfectly, but I love that He trusts me with it at all. Me! A woman who has made her share of mistakes and oopsies in life, but who falls so heavily on the grace and mercy of Jesus.
Part of the ‘new’ look for ministry for me is the upcoming Come Away retreat that I am hosting in September. I’d love for you to pray about attending.
Come Away will be an intimate time of leaning into Jesus through worship, Scripture study, and prayer. We will set aside tweets and posts and hashtags in order to hear from Jesus about how crazy He is over us. The retreat will be held September 15-17, 2017. Pop over HERE to learn more details.
Have you ever watched a sea gull? When in flight he powerfully lifts himself higher and higher with every flap of his wings until he is higher than any other gull. Then, he gracefully circles down to the earth. The gull seems to be all about performing and excelling.
What happens, though, when Mr. Gull gets into a flock of gulls? It is not a pretty sight. There are territorial fights over food that cause feathers to fly everywhere. The word ‘share’ is not in the gull’s vocabulary. Philip Yancey said that ‘they are so fiercely competitive and jealous that if you tie a red ribbon around the leg of one gull, making him stand out, you sentence him to execution. The others in his flock will furiously attack him with claws and beaks, hammering through feathers and flesh to draw blood. They’ll continue until he lies flattened in a bloody heap.”
By contrast, consider a flock of geese. You’ve seen them flying in a V-formation, honking all the way to wherever they are going. Scientists know that geese fly faster in that V-formation. The lead goose is the one doing all the work, flying against the wind. It is because of this that there is a regular swapping of positions among the geese in the V which allows the flock to fly long distances without stopping to rest. Everyone shares in the tough job.
The geese with the easiest jobs are those in the back…the last one on each end of the V. It has been observed that the stronger geese allow the weaker and older of the flock to stay in these lighter-work positions. All that honking may even be a way for the geese to encourage one another to keep flying.
If a goose becomes too sick or weak to fly, she is not abandoned. A healthy goose will stay on the ground with the sick or weak one until she is ready to fly again. While gulls are individualistic and territorial, geese are concerned about the flock as a whole, as well as their individual goose-friends.
Into this story we insert today’s verse in our Authentic Christianity study. Check out Romans 12:10.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
The kind of love that is being spoken of in this verse is the love of a friend or a family member, rather than romantic love. As Christians we are to be tenderly affectionate toward other Christians. We are to seek the good of our Christian brothers and sisters, rather than maligning them and dishonoring them. The apostle Paul echoed this admonition in Philippians 2:3 when he told the believers in Philippi to consider others better than themselves.
I will just tell you that the last part of Romans 12:10 is hugely convicting to me. HUGELY! I fail miserably at showing honor to other people. Oh sure, I honor my parents and those who are older than me. But, I sometimes get a big old ‘F’ when it comes to honoring those who seem to be making poor life choices or are different than me. This should remind us of Romans 12:3 where we are told to ‘not think more highly of ourselves than we ought’. If we take this verse seriously, we will show real appreciation, respect, and care for others. We will put their welfare before our own, and we will be Jesus-with-skin-on to them.
NOTE: If you are reading this post via email, you will need go to my website in order to see the video and access the GIFT I have for you. Click HERE to go to my website. When you arrive there, please look for the Friday, April 14th post.
Today I wanted to offer a video post because I hope to be able to convey how important I believe this week’s posts have been. Surely, I am not the only one out there who is desperately in need of a word make-over! Surely, I am not the only one in need of grace for her tongue. Surely, I am not the only one who needs accountability in her life?
I hope you will take the time to watch the video. I also hope you will be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit in your own heart. Here are links to my Monday and Wednesday posts that I reference in the video.
I would love to hear from you if you decide to take a journey similar to mine. You can use these principles for more than just changing words. They can be used to break free of all kinds of strongholds…lying, anger, alcoholism, adultery, pornography, overeating and so much more. Scripture memorization, prayer, and accountability. Three tools that have the blessing of God for you, His child.
May this gift will be a blessing to you, my readers. I hope it will help you in your journey toward words of grace. Please click the blue button below and follow the prompts to download and print your Grace-Full Scripture Cards.