aDare to be New taking on what God challenges you to do

Don’t Count the Years!

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
…Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
Psalm 90:12-16 (ESV)

Years ago I would see widows farther along in their journeys and think, Wow, they’ve had time to overcome and heal. But part of me would worry. This could be a long journey. I was right. Here I stand at nine years.

Nine years.

But who’s counting? Not me. I’d rather make each year count.

It begins by making the most of each day and appreciating the process of life again—that ebb and flow of managing your household, your job, or your children, if you have them.

Next time you say to yourself, oh, I am counting off another year, stop and remember to MAKE this year count using these four “MAKE” tips!

Mash that reset button on your thinking.

Ask God to help you see your life differently. No one’s life is just toil and pain. Purpose and beauty is revealed when seeing your world through His eyes! I have found the words in Psalm 90 perfect for reawakening my spirit for a new day.

Act on it!

Put action to those ideas you’ve always wanted to do. For example, I always wanted to change my fitness habits. But each time I set out to run the course I had laid out in my neighborhood, I’d get winded and emotionally give up. It wasn’t a lack of ability keeping me from running.  It was lack of will.

One day I simply did it. No excuses. I knew for my fitness level, it was possible. My longing for ease was keeping me from action.  Once I broke that barrier, I never looked back. Two months later I haven’t missed a day in my routine, and most days, I run the loop twice!  Action brings on a can-do attitude!

Kindle the right picture in your mind.

Imagine yourself in the process of enjoying your routine rather than the routine being done. I come from a business world full of ten-year and five-year plans all focused on the bottom line, so this doesn’t come naturally for me.  For years I would envision a perfectly clean home. But after rushing around with my kids and keeping up with ministry obligations, I’d look at the kitchen and get overwhelmed.  How different it looked than the vision in my mind.

This is how most New Year’s resolutions end up broken.  Psychologically, when you imagine your goal achieved, your brain has already won a reward of satisfaction for having put it out there.  Once the hard work begins, a normal reaction is to get overwhelmed and give up.

So I changed my thinking in regards to my kitchen. Rather than imagining a clean kitchen all the time, I kindled the picture in my mind of my cleaning the kitchen and enjoying it.  As I pulled into the neighborhood after a long day of errands, I put the idea of escaping into my bedroom out of my mind and replaced it with an image of my moving straight to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and wipe the counters.  Very soon I was living that image daily and voila! My goal was met!

Energize yourself with evidence!

Evidence of God’s glory in my life becomes fuel for my next day. Rather than praying, “God make this day different,” I now praise Him and ask Him to let me loose on this planet for yet another day to change lives for His Glory!

Lord Father, help this sister remember You love her. Keep her energized and kicking up a storm in this world! Prompt her to make this and every year count!  Amen.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

He IS Here

Decisiveness

Amazed, Anew

Totally Blessed but Still so Broken

Recently I’ve felt all broken, like a puzzle pulled apart right in the middle of plotting my new life portrait. I mean, when God gives us a second chance aren’t we supposed to focus our eyes in front of us, hearts overflowing with unheralded hope? But instead, I feel like I’m betraying Him with blinders on my eyes and hurt in my heart.

Have you ever felt that way? Like you know you’re blessed but still you feel broken in pieces. So instead of praising Him you’re imploring Him.

Maybe we can work through this together.  Widowhood’s puzzle comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, colors and contours. So even though my picture may look a lot different than yours, we all begin with one piece: death, loss of a large part in the puzzle we once knew.

Right now, I’m in the first year of putting pieces of the ‘remarried widow’ portrait together. I’m blessed because of my sweet second chance! The colors, contours, truths, type of love and fears of another loss create an entirely new appearance. It’s exciting, awesome and downright wonderful….really, it’s also very scary.

Someday I’ll tell the full story of how it all happened, how God was the One working against me as I resisted remarriage. He went ahead without my consent (as if He needed it!) and put it all together so beautifully that I had to welcome His blessing!

But now I’m here with all this newfound hope somehow feeling broken in the midst of my blessing.

You see, saying ‘I do’ for a second time did not put me all back together again. The loss of my first love sometimes lingers. I’ll say it straightforward: Grief doesn’t just go away, replaced by remarriage. Past puzzle pieces remain intact because God gave them purpose. And for me, they occasionally resurface although fewer and further between.

When I celebrated my first love’s birthday last week at the memorial given by his comrades, his fellow firefighters, I fell flat. The puzzle of my new life portrait came apart like a sudden pressing pause, then quick rewind to raw loss.

I was reminded this journey is much too complicated to reconcile with a walk down the aisle. Of course, in my mind I knew remnants of grief over Kevin would always remain. But it wasn’t until I couldn’t catch my breath that I realized how paradoxical it would feel. My new husband holding my heart listening intently about my lost love. He sweetly saw my struggle as I poured out my heart.

Listen, ladies. Don’t get me wrong! New love is amazing, fresh, a God-given gift if it arises on your widowhood walk. It adds depth and opportunity to fill new dreams. It’s been an awesome display of God’s love in my life! But we have to remember: it’s not all about happiness and healing….although both are byproducts of any relationship done right. (Here’s more about that on Happily Whole: It’s Not All About Being Happy)

I’d never steer you away from another man if your puzzle pieces are put together with prayer and God’s purpose. But, as widows, we have to be real. New love sometimes underlines what we’ve lost. I’m pretty sure, as God continues putting my puzzle together, I’ll always feel a little unmade.

And, you know what? That’s okay with me. Because one thing I can say I have learned without a doubt as I continue to reconcile my past and present puzzles is that God is my number ONE. He is my ONLY constant, my first Comforter and my life’s Creator! I will follow Him wherever He leads!

So, I suppose it’s also alright the way we sometimes know we’re blessed but still feel all broken, pulled apart and pieces missing. He leaves some pieces out of our puzzles so our constant, our Comforter, our Creator has space to fill us in.

No matter how broken we feel, the blessing is still always real!

If you were wondering about more of my second chapter struggles, here’s one on Happily Whole all about the blessing of blending… families and buttercream: Buttercream Blending and Messy Motherhood

Now, with you all in my heart and in my prayers, I’m headed back over to Happily Whole to continue writing a new recipe!

Live Well and Be Blessed,

Katie

One

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:8-9

The Power of – One –  is such a lonely number.

This phrase has been dancing through my head for a while now.

The Power of One…the One…Jesus Christ.

One is such a lonely number.  Me…alone…by myself.

As I type this article, it has been thirty-one days since I dropped my only daughter off for her freshman year of college.  She is a four hour drive from our home.  I have shared with you her Senior year of high school, my preparation for the big drop off at college and even the events of the drop off day.

Now, I’ve had thirty-one days on my own, for the first time since 1993 when I was married to her father.  Just me.

I’m happy and settling into this new phase of my life.  I am going room by room and cleaning out.  I have started to intentionally eat healthier and have convenience food delivered to me that will help me with weight loss too.  I am going to the gym and working out with a friend.

Cristina, my daughter, has settled in so beautifully at college.  I know, in her heart, she is making a home there and she’s happy and making great friends and doing well!

I share all of this to point out that I have intentionally changed my mindset from one of loss to one of new opportunities.  If I look back on where I’ve been and who has been in my life and focus on what I’ve lost, that is a dark, lonely corridor that I don’t want to be in, and is devoid of Hope.  Instead, I look to the One and ask Him what opportunities He has for me in this new phase.

I don’t label myself as a widow or single mother.  I am a child of God.  I am not broken or “less-than”, just waiting for anything.  God has something for me right now.  I am still a work in progress that calls on His Grace and Mercy every moment of every day; and I struggle with a myriad of things that He and I are working on together for His Glory.  I am still here, so I still have a purpose.

As I look back over my life and all of the growth that God has allowed in my life in the past 20+ years, it is amazing.  I have endured things that I would never have asked for had I been able to see as I was going into the storm, and I would never have thought I would survive.  But by clinging to the Power of One – the One, I have not only survived, but I have thrived.  I laugh more than cry; I am filled with joy, contentment, and gratitude.

So, even though one is such a lonely number, the Power of One always wins.  I encourage you to focus on the Power of One – the One – and keep your mind from thinking that one is a lonely number.  God can do a lot with one when you are surrendered and looking to the One.

Dear Lord, Please help me to continue looking to You – the One – for my hope and contentment.  Thank You for loving me and growing me.  Amen

 

Sherry bioSherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 18 years old and a college freshman.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Another article on being alone, but not lonely? click here

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

If you are interested in having Sherry or any of our team come visit your church or group please email us: admin@anewseason.net

People Are Messy

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV)

This is my first article since I took a break in May from writing. A LOT has happened in my life during that break! Some things I saw coming and others were a total surprise. My only daughter graduated high school and went off to college. I had to put one of my dogs down. My dad had some serious health issues and had to be hospitalized. I made the difficult decision to take a break from a very special relationship. All the while, I was still running my home, working a full time job, and continuing in my volunteer roles.

During this time of major change and struggles, I had to step back and reflect, and I realized people are messy! This world is messy! I am messy! My world is messy!

So, as I faced this new unknown I asked: Who am I? Whose am I? I was led to the passage of scripture above. I am an adopted child of the King of Kings. My Savior is my advocate. I am in Christ and therefore a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here! God doesn’t count my sins against me.

People are messy! The world is messy! What do I do with that? People don’t act the way I want them to or react the way I want them to. How do I react to this messiness?

If I am I being honest here, my reactions sometimes are anger and resentment, resulting in broken relationships. This isn’t the picture of a new creation. It’s a picture of I…me…mine…! That’s old and it does not have love in it, so Christ is not there.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
1 John 4:12-17 NIV

Scripture clearly states that we are to have love for the messy people of this world. We are to respond with love and in love. Love evaporates anger, resentment and repairs relationships. When we love, Christ is in us and people see the Savior, the One who made us a new creation.

I am a work in progress and this is the big area of my life that God is working on. It is very easy when people let us down or don’t react the way we want them to, to walk away and just move on. There is hurt for a time, but eventually you get out of the habit of having that person in your life. Jesus loves us when we are our messiest and that’s where He meets us. Can’t we try to meet others there too?

That’s what I’m working on…responding in love with the author of LOVE and then showing this messy world that Christ is in me. I don’t always hit the mark, but Christ always responds in love to my pleas for forgiveness and I start again. I encourage you to respond in love too!

Dear Lord, Thank You for forgiving me and meeting me where I am in my mess. Thank You for loving me in spite of my messiness and, Lord, please help me to remember how You deal with me when I encounter others in their messiness and may I respond with Your Love. Amen

Garden Delight

 

They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:8 NIV

I love to sit out on my patio doing a morning devotion and take in all the wonderful creations from God. I can see all the new growth on the trees, bulbs peeking up from the earth, and hear the birds singing melodic tunes through the air and the feeling evoked from all this “newness” is a happy, content feeling, that life is just good.

Since we have moved to our new home, we have been so busy fixing things and trying to organize box after box that I haven’t had time to think about the state of our yard much. My daughter has been faithfully nagging me about our garden. At our “old” house, we gardened together all the time. We planted sunflower seeds each fall and we wrote out the word “LOVE” for Christmas in impatiens. I love to garden with her. She notices all the little things that I sometimes take for granted. The sprout of carrot that is just barely peeking through the soil. The tiny worm wiggling around and helping our plants get “really big.” So, after a few weeks of hearing her wishing about our new garden, we went shopping. We decided to tackle a small veggie and herb garden first.

We hit the store and got all the veggies and herbs that we liked the best and a few for brother too. We prepped our soil. We made sure all the rocks were gone and we added in a really nice brick border. We carefully mapped out our plan and then we started putting in our plants and seeds. Sheer delight was across both of our faces as we stood back and enjoyed our hard work after giving our new garden a good, long drink of cool water.

The next morning, she was the first one up and headed out to see how things were “growing.” She watered everything again. She informed me that things were looking good and I needed to be patient. God would take care of it for us.

She was right. Within a few short days our green beans peeked out along with some lettuce, carrots and cucumbers. The tomatoes and herbs were happily stretching up toward the warm sun as well.

It has now been a little while since we planted our garden and blooms are everywhere. We have blossoms on our peppers, blueberries, cucumbers and beans. Our tomatoes have nice green fruit on almost every branch. We can’t wait to partake.

We are all like the seeds or small plantings that we so carefully took care of and watched over. We need to be sure that our “roots” remain close to God and planted in good soil (His Word) so that we will have a firm and deep foundation when the thunderstorms come our way.

I think of our tears as the rain water that the plants need for growth.

It says in Revelations that He will wipe every tear from us. He knows our sorrow. He understands our sorrow. He allows those tears to flow as part of the healing and growth that we need to keep drawing ourselves closer to Him.

I think of the fertilizer used to help bring some strength and extra nutrients to the new growth and plants as our friends. Those people who have come along side of us and prayed with us. Held our hands. Brought us meals. Provided for us monetarily or through gifts. Those who have just sat and listened with us or offered that hug or smile that we desperately craved in those long, lonely days, weeks or months.

And finally the sun. Plants need the sun for warmth and growth and quite frankly, we need the Son, for the exact same reasons. The Son comforts us in those deep, dark valleys and reminds us that the Sonlight, ALWAYS overcomes the darkness. The Son helps us grow in our faith and in our beliefs that there is more to this life here on earth. The Son makes us look up. In order to see that goodness and feel that warmth, our faces need to be turned to Him, just like the leaves in our garden.

My prayer is that you will plant your roots deep in His Word. Cry the tears of healing and growth whenever you need to. Reach out to your friends and allow them to be the fertilizer that you need them to be. But, most importantly, don’t take your eyes off of the Son. He’s always “tending” to you, whether you feel Him or not, He’s our ultimate gardener.

 

Get on the Roof

 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” Proverbs 17:17

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 (NIV)

I have friend drama!   Yes, can you believe it?  A woman- a widow- with drama.  It’s shocking, right?

The other day I was sitting with my daughter talking about the journey she’s embarking on as a pre-teen girl, and the friendship roller coaster ride that will last her entire life.

I walked her through some of my good and bad experiences. We looked at what Scripture says about friendship, particularly the three verses above.  I use these as my cornerstones on friendships now.

I reminded her of the key truth:  She has no control over her friends and what they may or may not do.  But, she has complete control of her actions, her words, and how she reacts to those drama-filled, hurtful or hard moments.

She can be the kind of friend she wants her friends to be to her.

I explained to my girl, she will fall short and she will completely fail at times on this friendship roller coaster. Yes, there will be drama. Yet, she is covered by grace and should just strive to be a friend that honors God and loves well.  I even promised her that friendship is one of God’s greatest gifts.

Recently, I needed to remind myself of all this. I got an “in my face” reminder of a lost and negatively-changed friendship, and it stung. My friendships have changed throughout my life.  But in the last five years, many of my friendships have changed the most drastically.  It’s tough to know you’re no longer who you were to some friends.  You can’t be and have some of the friends the way you did as a married woman.

It’s even tougher as I pray and walk this journey when I realize, maybe I wasn’t the friend I wanted others to be to me.  YES!  I do indeed bear some of the burden and responsibility throughout my life for my friend drama.

In the book of Mark there’s a rather brief story where Jesus heals a paralytic.  In Mark 2:5, Jesus forgives and heals the man because of his friends’ faith.  It says, “When Jesus saw THEIR faith,” He forgave and later healed the man.

If you look closely at this story, the men had traveled carrying this sick man on a mat to where Jesus had stopped. When they arrived there was no room for them to enter the home where Jesus was teaching.  So, instead they climbed on the roof and hoisted the man up, then dug a hole in the roof and lowered him down.  This took great time, sacrifice, care, love, commitment, and effort.

They were friends who were willing to climb on a roof for another.

Friends who were willing to get messy and dirty!

Friends who were willing to sacrifice time and energy!

Friends who were willing to be greatly inconvenienced for another!

As I have walked this journey I’ve had a few friends who got on the roof for me, and I’ve had others just not willing or able to go there.

Through my own experiences, I now know I do want to be a friend who will get on that roof every time!

I also realize the challenge is this; in the midst of anything I have going on, I need to strive to be the kind of friend I want others to be to me.  Remembering, I can shine Christ and show grace throughout.  And when I sin and fall short, I can give it to Jesus, be forgiven, and just try again.

Father, I pray for all of my friends- past, present and future.  I thank You for how You have grown me and taught through each friend You’ve brought into my life.  I pray You bring a willing heart to me and every one of my sisters to be the kind of friend that loves well and honors You before others.  Help me lead with love and grace even during the tough friendship moments, and help me to accept the changes with grace, and honor You in every moment.  In Your Precious Name, Amen.

 

295163_1927953164696_1418199297_31839733_2097799_nErika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net.
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/erikag
 

Spring Cleaning Your Soul

The sun shines brighter and longer illuminating the air with warmth and lifting our spirits with the energy we lack during dreary days. The change in season births new life, budding plants and birds singing a new song. Spring has sprung!

I open up our windows and dust off what’s been packed away for the winter; my senses awaken and, well, spring cleaning doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming. So my list begins–deep clean the kitchen, sweep out my garage, clear out overstuffed closets, and vacuum the car.

Okay, so maybe it is a bit daunting seeing all the ‘to dos’ once their written out.  I’m tempted to avoid all the dirty work and partake in the more playful and pleasing features of spring! Aren’t you? But procrastination only makes a list longer as tasks grow from molehills to mountains.

As I ponder potential spring cleaning procrastination, my mind wanders, “I wonder if my soul needs some spring cleaning, too.”

Maybe THAT’S actually the kind of cleaning I’ve been avoiding. Maybe I need to take a hard look at what needs cleaning on the inside, on the inside of me. You see, I have this tendency to keep myself too busy. It’s a defense mechanism, really. And I realize I’ve gotten carried away with day to day busyness, mindlessly neglecting the cleanliness of my soul.

Keeping myself over-committed has stolen any time for real soul searching…it’s kept me from seeking my Savior.  Sure, I do devotions, relish in weekly Sunday worship and abundantly bow my heart to Him in prayer. I host a weekly Bible study and seek every day ways to teach His Word to my little girls. But I still sense distance between me and Him. I’ve been going through the motions, and preaching more than practicing.

WOW.

My heart stands still, and my breath skips several beats. Conviction careens with my soul.  It’s time to mop up the mess. So instead of deep cleaning my house, I think I’ll start with some deep cleansing of my soul.

As I get down on my knees and start sweeping the cobwebs away, I see it more clearly. I’ve allowed life to carry me away instead of His love to comfort me when I’ve needed respite from the world. Lately, as stresses mount and my hands work fast to keep the flames low, I’ve not taken time to find respite and rest in Him.

I’ve allowed worries to burden me, staining my soul.  Now’s the time for a good scrubbing!

As I sit down to search His Word, I’m directed here: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5: 6-7 (ESV)

I continue dusting the dirt from untouched corners of my soul. I’ve been in a hurry, hustling from place to place, trying to hold it all together without the help of His sovereign hands. With each attempt to solve it all myself, I’ve failed to TRULY surrender to Him.

I’ve failed to clean up my act and ask Him for help in every situation. How can I know what’s right when I’m not constantly consulting Christ!?

I’m the typical mom trying to do too much, over-estimating my energy to accomplish lists far too long. But when I slow down and stay close to Him, I do only what is necessary. After all, He didn’t create me for exhaustion, He created me for His exaltation!

I keep cleaning and climb the ladder, looking up in reverence to Him, wiping the weariness from my soul’s toughest-to-reach corners. When I keep my eyes up I remember I don’t need to hold it ALL together because it’s not ALL mine to hold.

This verse comes to mind: ‘And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.’ Colossians 4:17 (ESV)

So, yeah, I’m convicted but I’m coming clean! I need some straightening up! Sisters, is there something keep you from closeness with Him? Maybe you feel the need to spring clean your soul, too.

Let’s stop overdoing our days make every day’s passion about His purpose. Let’s slow down enough to seek Him and continue calling on this simply powerful verse to sooth our souls: “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

Cross it Off! The C in CALM

Last week I shared a remedy for stress I call CALM.  You can read it here.  When I get overtaxed and find myself thinking about the portions of burden on my plate, I help myself get centered again by using the word “CALM”.  Each letter in the word helps me remember a nugget of God’s wisdom which can change my heart about my circumstances.

This week I’m honing in on the letter C in CALM, which stands for “Cross it Off”.  What would it take to cross certain items off of your to-do list that are adding stress God doesn’t want you to have in your life?  I’m digging a little deeper on the subject of crossing things off my list.

* * *

Three weeks.

For three weeks I’ve kept the same task at the top of my to-do list. I keep blowing past it while hitting the rest of my list.

Why? I’ve run into technology obstacles called mega video files!

Huge video files have parked themselves on my phone. They won’t back up to my cloud storage because of their enormous lengths.

I’ve tried trimming the files, directly connecting them to my computer using a USB, youtubing them, and zipping them. If all of this sounds like techno-geek to you, you’re not alone. I was out of my comfort zone. I’ve even called my geeky friends to see if they had answers. Nothing.

Meanwhile, these video files have acted like a log jam. They stop anything further from getting backed up on my phone and hog the memory, so all of my other phone apps run doggedly slowly.

But I wouldn’t let go of it. I made a promise to share them, and I didn’t want to disappoint.

Isn’t that what happens in our hearts?

We have our lists of what our lives are supposed to be about. And we run about trying to tend to our lists, without checking in with what God wants in our lives.

And then those items on the list just linger around. They eat away at me. Taunt me. Tell me I’m not keeping up.

What nonsense!

When I look back over the last three weeks, I’m amazed at what God’s had me do. I’ve dug into God’s Word, shared it with others in my path, tended to my children, counseled friends who needed me, and moved forward with every next step needed the ministry. Why am I looking at what is not crossed off and not considering what I have done with God’s direction?

Because the list represents the world, when I chase my to-do list, I’m conforming to the world.

But Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2, ESV)

Has my persistence in having all the items on my to-do list been done through discernment over His will?

Does he want me messing with long video files when I can accomplish the heart of sharing that information His way? Maybe He wants a more personal way to share what’s on those videos.

It’s easy to push through our busy lives, clicking through our to-do list without giving what’s on it a second thought.

But God wants our hearts, not our checked-off lists.

As I hit the delete button on each long video, I felt my soul breathe easier. No more log jams. No more guilt.  I replaced sharing the videos by scheduling a short conference call to personally cover the messages in these videos.

Is it possible God never wanted those videos shared? They were too long anyway. Perhaps they would never have been watched, because all those whom I was to share them with are busy with their own to-do lists!

Look through your list. Ask yourself if you are simply conforming to this world by keeping everything that’s on it. The world can suck you in, and then suck the joy out of you. Be transformed. Let the Lord renew your mind and renew your list. Keep on the list only those items that will move you forward in Him.

And any item that log jams in your heart?

Cross it off!

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for aNew Season Ministries, and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her bestie’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about how to handle stress?  Here are some articles you might try:

My Focus by Erika Graham

Remembering to Rest by Sheryl Pepple

 

A CALM Remedy for Stress

Oh, that face.

That beautiful, scowling face.

You’d think he could shoot laser bullets straight through you with that squint in his eyes.

And you want to let up. You want to give that precious, impudent fifteen-year-old exactly what he wants, so he’s sweet and cuddly again.

But you know what he’ll do with that freedom. Squander it.

Oh, he’ll be happy and sing your praises for a time.

But deep inside, he’ll know you’ve stopped trying. Stopped caring. Stopped holding him accountable.

Isn’t that how it works with the Lord?

When life has me fed up, I wonder if the Lord sees me like that scowling fifteen-year-old. My prayers first sound like pleading. Soon pleading sounds like complaining. I simply want what I want, and He’s not letting me have it.

I want a companion for life again, but I’m still raising these children alone. I want financial security, but I still have to watch every penny. I want a stress-free life, but each day brings another home repair or parenting dilemma.

When He doesn’t give me what I want, when I want it, stress builds. I stomp my feet, so to say. Where are You when I need You, I think.

But I know His answer.

Right here. He’s right here with me, guiding me, pruning me, shaping me.

If He were giving me what I want when I wanted it, I wouldn’t grow stronger. I would squander that freedom like a fifteen-year-old.

Oh, I would be singing His praises for a time. But eventually I’d grow comfortable in the easier time and turn my focus onto the world and away from Him.

Then I wouldn’t really lean on Him or know He cares about me.

Deep down I know He’s drawing me closer to Him by not making my life easy.

When I get overtaxed and find myself thinking about the portions of burden on my plate, I help myself get centered again by using the word “CALM”.  Each letter in the word helps me remember a nugget of God’s wisdom which can change my heart about my circumstances. See if these help you as well:

  1. C- Cross things out – Cross the simple “wants” off your lists and keep the critical. Don’t feel guilty about moving many of your items off to a “do-it-later” list. Focus on a “do-it-today” list that’s achievable.
  2. A- Arrive at peace with others – Some stress comes from our own doing. Don’t provoke others into creating stress for you. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31, ESV)
  3. L- Look for the root of your stress, then repair or let go! Sometimes a nagging thought unravels your ability to focus. Identify it and ask whether it will still matter a year from now. If so, focus on the truth, nagging at the heart of it. Fix or let go of it, and your stress will fall away.
  4. M- Maintain your health – get rest, exercise, and keep up with nutrition and wellness.

Are you simply asking for the easier life, or leaning on His power through your challenges?

That’s a question I challenge myself with each day.

God, would you show each sister how much she is loved by You. Lift her through her stressful days. Help her find peace even in her burdened times by leaning on Your strength (Phil 4:13).

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for aNew Season Ministries, and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about how to handle stress?  Here are some articles you might try:

He met destruction so I wouldn’t have to by Ami Atkins

Work for Soul Rest by Katie Oldham

 

A Windowless Basement

Have you ever felt stretched by what seemed like an impossible situation?

Have you handled a blow in life and moved forward, only to be presented with yet another tough circumstance?

It can happen.  Like lightning striking twice.  We have hope for great futures, and blessings come. But even when you’ve already endured one loss, life still can hit hard again.

This week in our ministry, we came across a beautiful soul who cried out to us. She already survived the end of her marriage and was thriving as a single mom.

But years later a new challenge presented itself. Both her children have educational needs that require conflicting geographic locations to qualify for scholarships.

How does she balance it? Where will she go?

Her old wounds opened. The wounds of what had her raising kids by herself in the first place.

Have you felt stretched and put in impossible dilemmas as this woman has? It can leave you questioning. Why God? Why?

Your new circumstances can be horribly dire. Maybe now you’re facing the traumatic life and death situation of a family member. Or maybe this new challenge isn’t life and death, but still personally taxing. Maybe now you have to end a relationship that gave you a sense of security.

Big or small, each challenge forces you to face that having hope and grace in Christ doesn’t mean life won’t deal you another blow.

And when it does, you brace yourself. You know what the full force of life feels like when it hits.

You’ve been there before. You can survive it again.

That’s how this single mom with the geographic quandary felt. So each of us on the team began to minister to her.

And their mosaic of encouragement, all unique to each other, centered on one Truth: there is a future and a hope with Christ.

A precious friend summed it up using a beautiful analogy made by Paul David Tripp. He described being in a dark basement. The windows are covered. You can’t see the outside. You know the sun is shining out there, but you just can’t see it.

Do you assume it no longer shines?

No. You just believe it’s daylight out there.

You know God is there, but you are just in a dark place right now. You will eventually feel your way to the window and pull away the coverings so that His Light streams in again.

When you find yourself confused, know in your heart that there is a whole different perspective to the place where you are. God knows the choices you have to make. He knows the other side of this dilemma. He has plans for you. You will one day see the other side of this.

Meanwhile, you can take some wisdom from Paul. He wrote about being in this dark place and letting God’s Word be a light. In 2 Peter 1:19 he says, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (ESV)

That verse reminds us of the Old Testament Psalmist who says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, ESV).

You can try self-help books that only reference the Bible. You can spend time reading the works of ministries like ours that focus on biblically based teaching. We will help you, pray for you, and offer wisdom.

But what we’re really doing is leading you to the real Light—the Word. Never let our writings or any other words written only by man replace reading the Bible. When you read His Word, it’s like the true light shining in your world.

Father God, would you encourage our sister to turn to You when she is confused? Place the desire in her heart to draw closer to You when she doesn’t know where to turn, and help her know that You will light her way, one step at a time, as she feels her way out of this basement. Amen.

Would you like to read more devotionals about God’s light in dark situations?  Try these:

Dark Is As Light To Him  by Jill Byard

BLESSING GOGGLES: A Thankful Heart  by Lori Reynolds Streller