Faith

Margin Release part 1

When was the last time you did something personally scary?  You know, one of those things that you have to get completely out of your comfort zone to do?  I’ve had moments this year when I’ve gotten to the edge of my box and it’s been a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve purposely not taken it too far, not gotten too crazy.  You know what I mean?  Today however, I decided to abandon some of my fears and I hit the Margin Release key on my life.

I’ve been stretched this month, to love and grow like I’ve never had to before. In that stretching, I’ve come to feel the anxiety that life is short and I can’t waste a single day.   No, it’s not new knowledge, but it is felt knowledge now. [pullquote] Suffering has a way of sifting through things and making bold those parts of our lives that need to be edited out and those parts that need to be italicized.[/pullquote] This season is hard, but I do believe that it is purposeful and working for my own good.  That good that none of us wants to sign up for but produces in us some important characteristics and qualities that we are grateful for later.

After a conversation with a friend today it became apparent to me that I needed to stop complaining about my first world problems, release my self-imposed margins, and move into my life as I feel called to live.  I’m going to take the next few days to share with you two exciting and scary decisions that I made tonight. It is my hope that as you watch me hit the Margin Release key on my own life, you will have the courage to hit yours too.

I can’t wait to share my decisions with you.  If this is your time to do some scary things too, will you step out and let me know?  There is nothing like having a community to walk into the unknown with.

XOXO,

Summer

Love

One Big Lie We Have to Stop Believing

At the very core of ever person there is a desire to be loved.  God has given us both the desire for and the fulfillment of love in himself. We are dearly loved and cherished.  He has created us and desires an intimate relationship with us because of how loved and precious we are.  When we believe the lie that we are unloved, the consequences color everything about our lives and leave us hurting and lonely instead of living in freedom and joy.

Here are 3 false thoughts that lead us to the belief that we are unloved:

Love is revocable. This comes from the lie that I have to earn God’s love.  But friends, there is no amount of ministry, sacrifice, good deeds, or right living that will ever earn even a drop of God’s love.  We  can not buy or gain his favor, therefore we can not lose it either.  His love is freely given and his grace is always available.  God promises that his unearned love will never be taken away.

Love is scarce.   Often we live in guilt and shame–as though our mistakes and sins are just inches from being too much for God…inches from him saying that enough is enough…inches from him using some tough love on us and throwing us out until we clean ourselves up. In our shame, we often believe that God just doesn’t have enough love to cover our darkness. But God is actually nothing like that at all.  He loves us just as we are.  When we ask, he cleans up our messes and sets us right again himself. He never gets to his wits end or withholds his love from us.  This is because his love is based on his goodness and not of us.  God’s unending love for his children is ours regardless of the number or severity of our mistakes.

Love-Blindness Our pain and negative self-talk can steal our perspective leaving us unable to see all of the ways that God shows his love for us.  His creation-love is on display for us daily and is felt as a cool breeze on a busy afternoon or a beautiful multicolored sunset. His companionship-love is given in the form of a phone call on a lonely day or an encouraging word from a stranger.  His providing-love is evident as we eat, pay our bills, and sleep in our homes at night.  His great love for us is overwhelming if we purpose to see it.

God’s word says that all things are brought together for and through Christ.  This means that those things that we often think are a coincidence or are brought about by our own abilities, are in reality always God. Turning our thoughts into grateful acknowledgements of his love in our lives, changes our hearts from the inside out.  As our hearts soften, we begin to see his fingerprints all around us, see his love played out in us, and feel more closely connected to him.  God meets us there and heals our black and white Love-Blindness and replaces it with his multi-color vision of true love for us.

Our broken hearts need to know the truth about God’s love for us.  It’s not wishful thinking, it’s Biblical truth that brings freedom, joy, and peace.  God, indeed so loved the world…Yes, God indeed loves you.

XOXO,

Summer

Faith

When Doing, Really Should Be a Don’t

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12

I spent 2 months in Brazil in 1988.  It was an amazing experience and one that I would not change for anything. My Brazil time was physically hard and emotionally exciting.  It made me a better person by opening my eyes to the world and giving me a bigger perspective on the beauty of the people in it.  This trip was one part spiritual adventure and another part the answer to the question that I was asked over and over in my youth. “What are you going to do for God?”

Today, as I raise my daughters, I have steered away from the secular question of  “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and it’s church counterpart “What are you going to do for God?”.  Honestly, these questions have never set well with me.

As Christians, our lives are not about figuring out what we want to be or do for God.  I believe, our lives please God when we are responding in love to what he places in and before us.  We don’t need to search for things to do for him or to try to dream up ways to please him.  We don’t need to create ministries or start movements to fulfill our role as followers of Jesus.  We just need to respond to God.

As the book of Romans states, we take the ordinary stuff of life and place it before God as our love-gift-response. We give him our chaotic morning routines, lunches at work, carpooling, kids sporting events, phone calls, Pandora Channels and our internet time.  We offer it all to him as a beautiful expression of our love for him, obedience, and our desire for him to transform it all into the sacred.

Mission trips and service days are great for working out our love for others.  It goes all wonky though, when we start doing it to either earn our salvation or God’s love-which is impossible.  We also cause ourselves grief when we start keeping score-mentioning it to God later when we want something or are sure that he’s forgotten us in some way. This is when doing things for God should be a don’t.

The Christian life is much more simple than we want to believe it to be. Jesus himself boiled it down to loving God and loving others.   God often puts in front of us beautiful service opportunities so that we will develop well-formed maturity . He also places passions in us for the things he is specifically calling us to respond to.  These things are not birthed from our own compulsion to do something for God, but they are God directed and allow us to respond to him and participate in his work.

Today, instead of doing, doing, doing for God, let’s , fix [our] attention on God.  [We’ll] be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from [us], and quickly respond to it.

XOXO,

Summer

Love

Soul Thirst- 3 Steps to getting the connection that you long for

My soul longs for connection.  I love people and want to be close to them. Connection is important to me because I want to be known and seen by others as much as I want them to be known and seen by me.  Sometimes this longing for connection places too many expectations on those closest to me– and I begin to sense that it’s not really people-connection that I’m longing for, but Jesus-connection.

It’s a little like being thirsty.  Physical thirst triggers in us a longing for water and without it, we might not take care of ourselves properly.  Longing for Jesus is similar, and instead of spending time with him when I feel disconnected, I often misread this signal and give myself a somewhat unhealthy diet of good sweet people– like the coffee I tend to chose instead of water.  These people aren’t bad for me, but it’s easy to see that they aren’t and can’t be Jesus to me. In order to shift my perspective, I approach Jesus with these 3 steps.

Recognize the thirst When you start longing for connection, ask yourself this question.  Is this desire about being disconnected with the person/persons I love, or is this about my soul longing for truer connection?  They are similar questions, but the first is focused of loving others well and the second is focused on your own needs, longings, or loneliness.  If this is about your own needs, acknowledge that your foundational thirst really isn’t for people.  Then, let go of the expectations that you have for others to fill that hole, and turn all of your attention to Jesus.

Clean your cup Spending time with Jesus isn’t just about his companionship. Tell him about your longing and your misguided need for the attention of others.  Confess your struggles and your thirst, and let him meet you right there.  Let him begin the work in you that he wants to do to make you whole. Follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you sit and let Jesus clean your motivations and intentions, your longings and insecurities.  Confession  clears the way for healing. If you don’t clean your cup the yuck gets in the way of Jesus giving you all that he wants too. [pullquote]Confession clears the way for healing.[/pullquote]

Drink in truth  Jesus is our living water.  His words and The Word are some of the ways he fills us up.  These aren’t just hopeful words, they are life, security, and peace to our souls.  *If you don’t know where to start, I’ve listed some scripture at the end to help.  Here is a good method for drinking in Jesus when your primary purpose is to fill your loneliness and feel his connection.

  1. Pray- Ask Jesus to meet you here and to fill you up.  No elaborate prayers are needed.  Keep it simple he doesn’t need anything more.
  2. Sit quietly- take some deep breaths.  You are meeting Jesus, don’t let your life distract you.
  3. Choose one verse or thought to focus on.  I often read until something grabs me and then I focus on it.
  4. Reread the verse or short passage .  Yep..4, 5, 6 times if you’d like.  Read different versions but don’t make it a Bible study.  Read aloud.  Sing it if you feel like it.  Plop down right in the midst of God’s word and take comfort in it.
  5. Sit and listen.  Jesus probably has a lot more to say to you.  Be still and relax.  I often begin to see pictures in my mind, others see words, and some here whispers in their souls.  Soak it up.
  6. Praise God for meeting you. Praise him for his love.  Praise him for any and everything he brings to mind. Thank him for filling you up with exactly what you needed.

Spending time with Jesus will calm and fill your soul. When you have asked Jesus to fill you with himself, you can’t help but love the people around you better and more freely.  Drink deep of Jesus friends, his love and presence are the only things that will leave your soul satisfied.

XOXO,

Summer

*Here are some of my go-to passages when I want to get connected to Jesus:

Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 19, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, and I John and Psalms

Hope

What I Really Want For My Birthday

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me!
 Ok, I’ll be honest.  My birthday is really not my favorite day.  I get kinda stressed about it all and never know what to ask for or how to act when I’m opening my presents. I love the whole Facebook birthday wishes, but all of the rest of it feels a bit forced and awkward. I must have been like this even as a child, since this picture makes me think I was trying to get away from my birthday and my Auntie Ruth had to stop me.  This year is a bit different though,  I’m in an interesting transition season, and I think I finally know a few things I want and I’m not going to act awkward when I get them.

Joy!  I want the kind of joy that fills me and overflows to the rest of the world.  No longer do I want to be moody in any way.  I want the deep joy that only Jesus can give me and that, despite hard or ugly things happening in my life, can never be taken away.  I know it’s real because I’ve seen it and tasted it. I also know where to get it and it’s absolutely free for the asking. Yep, I want lots and lots of it!  This is my joy year and I can’t wait to see what it looks like!    [pullquote]Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you…—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. ~Matthew 11 The MSG[/pullquote]

My other birthday wish is for contentment. Materialism is not my problem, but I am a restless soul and a dreamer.  My heart often lies elsewhere and I’m no longer okay with that.  I’m starting to see that life is incredibly short and I don’t want to miss what is happening right before me.  In order to live in today, I need to be content.  God wants me to be satisfied with the way things are in my life, with his provision, providence, and power.  So although I am quite aware that I have to work at contentment, I know that God delights in this request and will meet me right where I am, growing me and changing my heart to be more like his. He tells me that all I have to do is ask for it and it’s mine.

I’m pretty excited about what God is going to do in my life this year– it’s like anticipating a big move to a sweeter and more peaceful place. These God-gifts won’t disappoint me, I’m sure of it.   You see, joy and contentment are gifts that I won’t get tired of or grow out of.  Nope, joy and contentment are exactly what I’m counting on growing into this year.

XOXO,

Summer

Love

4 Reasons to Love Monday Mornings

For a really long time, Mondays have been my favorite day of the week.  I crave a restart button in my life, and Mondays often provide just that.  Here are my 4 reasons that I hope will help why you should love Mondays too.

New Grace and Mercy  Mondays mornings are a great time to reflect on the previous week and create new intentions about the coming one.  I look at areas where I have failed or have gone off track, and start a new dialogue with God about them. I seek his forgiveness and mercy, and he pours his grace over the “should have and should not have beens.”  It’s a gift to start fresh and I am able to recommit to the important things without dragging the failure of the past week along with me.  Grace is available every day, but I often feel the need for it most on Monday mornings when my negative self-talk and tiredness want to bring me down.

New Faith   Looking at the previous week, I get to see where God has been at work.  I ask myself some questions to help me get a right perspective and take away some of the blurriness.  Where do I see God’s fingerprints?  Where are my prayers being answered?  When am I accepting God “at work” as coincidence?  Did I respond the same way I always do to situations, or was there God-growth in my hardness? Do I see change in hard situations? Is God revealing a new calling or gifting?  Where God provide what I needed? What did God do that was unexpected? Delightful? Hard? All of these questions lead me to refocusing my heart on the kingdom and produces in me a deeper faith.

New Opportunities Peering ahead and planning a new week is exciting.  Sure, we all have the things we have to do and need to do, but if we are honest, we have lots of extra time too.  Mondays get me excited about all of the things I hope to do, and they give me the opportunity to plan ahead to squeeze the goodness into all of the fringe time I can find.  Looking at my calendar I start to squeeze in things that make my life good, beautiful, and full.  This week I’m looking for time to do these things:

  • Coffee with a very old friend so we can encourage each other on our journey as families with Autism.
  • Reading the Lego Brick edition of some Shakespeare with my family.
  • Cook a good dinner.
  • Pray about the details of a mission trip I believe God is calling me to.
  • Send out encouraging post cards to friends I know are hurting.
  • Soak up the Pacific Ocean.
  • Go for a long beach walk with my hubby.

Fringe time is the best and Mondays give me the opportunity to use it to its fullest by planning ahead. Planning is important and comes very naturally to me, but God also wants me to be flexible.  As I plan, I dedicate the week, and all that it will be, to the Lord for his glory and his purposes. I also dedicate my heart to him asking for help to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit so that I will be willing to set my plans aside when he asks. When my heart is right with God, I can embrace change as a new opportunity for obedience and not as an inconvenience. [pullquote] When my heart is right with God, I can embrace change as a new opportunity for obedience and not as an inconvenience.         -Summer Green[/pullquote]

New Praise  When I regularly refocus my eyes on God and kingdom life, I can’t help but praise him.  His work in my life is intimate, tangible and beautiful. This becomes a new living praise that is based on my very own relationship and encounter with God himself and not on the experiences of someone else.  Worship becomes real and not rote, and it not only pleases God but it opens my heart, out of gratitude, to living the life he sets before me. New grace, mercy, faith, opportunities, and praise are all beautiful byproducts of Monday mornings spent with Jesus.

Happy Monday Friends!

Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love

Why love is still the answer the world is waiting to for.

Oh friends, what would it look like if we just loved each other?  If we held each other when we were weak and chose kind words and caring actions that supported each other?  What if we set aside our pride, our vanity, our preconceived notions, and our selfishness?  If we chose to be in the mix with those who are messy and not at all like us. What would that kind of world be like?  I wonder.  I think it would be the way we all deeply long for this world to be.  Wouldn’t it? It would fill us with the joy that we sometimes feel is just out of reach.  If we chose to love, we would not need to fear one another or wonder what motivates others. We would be free to be vulnerable and known and it would be extraordinary. I believe that I’m not alone in saying that it just feels like that is the way it is supposed to be.  Perhaps the way it was originally intended?

 Yes and amen and yes again?  This world will never be what our deepest hearts are hoping for, but there is hope.  We were created for a kingdom of love.  It’s not a fantasy.  It is a promise sealed with blood. Today I want to hold your hand and remind you of this truth.  I want to hug you and whisper it in your ear.  You are loved and created for a better place. This place, my friend,  is really only a few moments ahead of us.

In the mean time, lets look each other in the eye and seek to love. Let’s whisper it in the ears of our children and write it in cards to those approaching twilight.  Let’s assume the very best from our fellow humans and truly love without knowledge of color or creed.   Let’s risk being made to look foolish or being taken advantage of.  Sure, it might not always be pretty.  You might end up hurt at times. But maybe, that might not matter quite so much. In the end, I believe the world will be grateful that you just stepped out against the current, opened your heart, and gave it your best.

“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:9

XOXO,

Summer