Out of Order

Lesson two in the Year of Order is that sometimes, a key to success is doing things out of.

(Order, that is.)

In the Year of Priorities (2016), I discovered that spending time with God is my  One Thing. To help me focus, and be well-rounded during that time, I came up with acronyms to help me. One of those acronyms is “By Power The Lord Helps Me.” I follow that acronym during my prayer time. For example, “B” stands for “Bow the knee.”

Last year, I followed that acronym to the letter, or else. And sometimes, I bogged down and didn’t finish. Doing the Christmas season, I particularly struggled.

This year, thanks to some inspiration from Brother Lawrence and the Holy Spirit, I stumbled upon the practice of following my acronym while I’m doing household tasks, and out of order, if necessary. I am lighter and freer, and I finish better each day.

But not only that, and this the strangest thing: When I focus while doing otherwise menial tasks, and mix it all up, it works more seamlessly and almost simultaneously. And it is deeper, it seems. It’s like I’m integrating Him into life. Again, I’m struggling to explain…

Which brings me to scripture memory for 2017. This year, I’m again following a plan by Beth Moore. I make a small booklet and learn two scriptures a month. It’s that simple.

Last year, I leaned heavily toward two, back-to-back scriptures each month. And so far this year, in the Year of Order, I’m doing them all over the place.

I’ve said it before, but I love it when God surprises me like that.

Here are my two scriptures for January:

First:

1 Corinthians 14:40

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And second:

1 Corinthians 14:33

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Yep. They’re all backwards and out of order…

😆

 

 

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Three Things

In the little, orange box, I put three things to give to Jesus in 2017. It’s my way of treasuring Him. It won’t be easy.

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Here are the three things I put in the box this year:

Yellow

This word won’t make any sense to most people. But Yellow is something I’ve thought of for years. I’m not sure if it’s God’s idea, or mine. So, I put the Yellow idea in the box. I’m giving it to Him. It might be so He can make it happen. Or, it might be so He can help me let go of it. It might need to die. Either way, it’s in His hands. It’s in the box.

Gaming

My college son invited me to play Pokemon Go last July. We started playing together, and I’ve continued after he left for college. I’m at a high level in the game. I play too much.

My beautiful, hipster granddaughter introduced me to Animal Jam, an online animal adventure by National Geographic. I started by just getting my daily spin each day. Then, the allure of the game called me in, and the social interaction with my granddaughter and her little sister was just a bonus.

As 2016 ended, I knew, in my heart-of-hearts, that gaming was stealing hours from me. And with dread, I knew it had to go in the box.

There’s nothing wrong with either of these games. It’s just a matter (for me) of choosing the better thing.

I’m not sure what this will look like, but I’ve already put fences around myself, and I trust God to lead me from here.

My Heart

As much Christmas music as I’ve listened to, I can’t believe that I’m about to say that I heard “Last Christmas” for the first time in 2016. I guess it’s because George Michael died, and his music enjoyed a revitalization. Here’s how the song starts:

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special…

Also, like the old-school song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” I really have no gift to bring that’s fit for a King.

I’m struggling to explain this, but for some reason, I just felt I needed to symbolically put my heart in the box. So, it’s there. I gave it to someone special…the most special person who’s ever lived.

But why are you revealing on the front end?

This blog exists for several reasons, and one is just as a writing exercise for myself. Another  reason is for me to work things out in black and white. And in this blog, I practice one of my greatest assignments and struggles:  to be real.

When I finally, truly met Jesus face-to-face (in a manner of speaking), in a strange experience I can’t really explain, the first thing He wanted me to do was cut the crap. I don’t know how else to say that, so I just said it. Jesus demanded that I be real, since He’s the Truth anyway. I certainly wasn’t fooling Him, or for that matter, many other people, as it turns out. The very first step between us had to be me being real.

This is  also one of my most important life lessons, and the reason John 8:32 is my life verse. Learning this lesson was truly the first step to freedom, for me.

But pulling it off was another thing entirely. As the Queen of Pride, and as a person adept at faking it, this was an impossible request. In fact, faking it was one of my best coping mechanisms, or so I thought. I still struggle with it to this day. But thankfully, Jesus is the God of miracles. He’s the only Way I’ll ever do anything.

So, there you have it. Me being real.

So, how’s it going?

I’ve already slipped and fallen in each area multiple times. But I’m not giving up. And He is always there with His hand out to help me up. No, to lift me up.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…” 

John 14:6, ESV

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me…” 

John 14:1, NKJV

“…And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:32, NKJV

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Still at That Counting Thing

I’m still counting the gifts.

There’s a book, although I’ve never read it. Back in the day, I occasionally followed the author‘s blog, when it was just that. She got me started. It helps.

I don’t follow her much anymore, but I still count. Here’s my progress so far in 2017:

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If I write down three things a day, I reach 1,000 gifts each year. It’s that simple.

❤️

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it, with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:6-7, NKJV

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The Little, Orange Box

In 2017, I’m putting some words into this box:

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I’m going to leave them all year, and next Christmas, I’ll open the box and see how I did. It’s  a little intimidating.

It’s my way of treasuring Jesus. It’s what I’m giving Him this year.

My pastor gave me this idea, and he explains it far better than I ever could.

If you could give Jesus something in 2017, what would it be? If you should decide to write it down, I’d love to know.

❤️

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The First Lesson

The first lesson of the Year of Order is that I can’t expect any.

(Order, that is.)

I kind of love how God surprises me like that, even when it’s not, in human terms, what I would call a positive thing.

During a recent day when all manner of disorder was happening, which eventually culminated in a 15 mile trip taking 2 1/2 hours because of surprise bad weather, this thought came to me:

The curve ball has been thrown. It is in the air, and it’s coming at you. All you can do now is try to hit the ball.

Thank you, God. I’m clinging to that thought on disorderly days in 2017, and trusting You for help. And I’m clinging for life to all your promise, because You’re the Answer, the Key, to everything.

 

 

 

 

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To Get My House in Order

My word for 2017 is order, and it’s a big one.

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Twenty-six years ago, God asked me to do something I didn’t want to do:  homeschool. And in my anger, I stamped my food and asked Him to tell me why. He did, but that’s another blog. Part of that call included a call to get my house in order, in a figurative sense.

Well, I’m not at all sure that I did that, but I did cross the finish line, for better or for worse, this last August.

After that, I had plans, but they didn’t include getting my house in order in a literal sense, and that’s exactly what God asked me to do. There’s a story, but I’ll spare you that today.

My scripture is:

Let all things be done decently and in order.

(1 Corinthians 14:40, NKJV)

I plan to memorize two scriptures a month, starting with that one.

I also plan to do a study of Genesis 1, where God (bless Him) imposed order out of chaos. After 26 years of homeschooling, and raising six children, I could use a little of that.

❤️

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Of Christmas Cards, and All That Perfection…

I love getting Christmas cards. The ones I receive each year hang on twine across my dining room windows, as part of our decorations.

All the feels…

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Every year, I plan to get my Christmas cards out. The last year this actually happened was 2013. This item on a to-do list is part of the machine of Christmas activity that pushes me relentlessly from Black Friday through January 1.

This makes me glad that my Heavenly Father knows I’m not perfect. In fact, He’s the only one, in the person of Jesus Christ, who ever was. To quote Hillsong United, in a song directed to Him, “If You sought perfection, I’d die trying to reach it…”

I love that song. It’s ministered to me many times.

Today I actually addressed and mailed out Christmas cards. But in keeping with my quest for simplicity and sanity in 2016, the Year of Priorities, I mailed out the ones I could comfortably mail out. This means a single, partially-filled label page, when in years past, there were multiple pages.

This also means that instead of the imagined photo of the hubbs, the college kid, and me, standing in front of some Christmassy background, recipients got a hastily-snapped, grainy selfie of just me.

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And this poem, in which I waxed eloquent:

🙄

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This is a silly, simple story, and easy to post. Life’s been darker and harder sometimes, believe me, but I spared you that today. You’re welcome.

I share all of this to be real, and to encourage you, dear friends, if your Christmas, or your life, for that matter, lacks the perfection you envisioned. After all, we’re people, not angels.

In my efforts to do better at Christmas, and get closer to God, and do more right-by-Jesus, whom (you know) it’s all about… I kinda studied Christmas this month, listening to the teaching of Dr. Tony Evans in the car and snatching snippets of other things. And my pastor did an excellent series on Christmas, too. It starts here and has 5 total messages. All of this came together to show me a few things that helped:

  • We’ve sanitized Christmas, when it actually had a rather dirty and difficult beginning.
  • I must really try not to let the baby (Jesus) get smothered under all the trappings of the holiday season. This takes a conscious, focused effort.
  • There is but one proper response to Him, no matter what time of year it is, and that is to bow down in worship.

As a redeemed mess, and a fellow sojourner, I can’t really give any advice, but I can share my story. So here it is: I found tiny ways that worked for me to do the points above in all the hustle and the bustle of the season. I dedicated myself to them, and stuffed them into the crevices of my life. I studied Brother Lawrence, and how he practiced the presence of God while washing dishes, and I adapted his principles to my days. I bowed my knee first thing, every morning, on the ancient, 1990s advice of Beth Moore. I did it all imperfectly. And I relaxed into His faithful, caring arms–trusting Him, and knowing He understands and loves me anyway.

All of this is hard. But the hard is what makes it great, you know. And we’re all in this thing together.

So, there you have it. My messy Christmas. My imperfection. And the freedom, the blessed freedom, of being a follower of Jesus Christ, who did it all for me.

❤️

“You’ve overcome this world with love
And made my fight Your own
I lift my eyes and throw fear aside
And sing out into the night…”

Merry Christmas! I hope you find Him this season, somehow, somewhere, if even for a moment. I hope you figure out a way to sit at his feet in all the craziness. He’s the Main Thing. He’s your One Thing.

These scriptures helped me in the Year of Priorities:

But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all of these things will be added to you.

And Jesus answered and said too her, “Martha, Martha…you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed…”

And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at his feet behind him weeping. And she began to wash his feet with her tears, and dried them with the hair of her head, and she kissed his feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.

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