Sweetest Things


The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars but do life’s common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.


– Robert Louis Stevenson

If we are not careful, we will miss it. We might overlook the joy and satisfaction found in ordinary things. We may fail to notice the extraordinary things disguised as common, everyday experiences. The brilliant lessons masked as seemingly dull duties. Within our routines there are priceless opportunities to build character and relationships, practice joy, and learn how to rest in contentment. These are the sweetest things in life.

Yet so often, these are the very things we cast aside and replace with desires and wants of enticing, more showy and sparkly things. The things we see in our Facebook and Instagram feeds that tempt us to identity crises, make us think we need more, need to do more, and make us question who we are. Envy, entitlement, and discontentment start cracking away at our hearts and seep into places that conquer and steal our attention away from the things right in front of us- the people, the tasks, the little tedious things that are often add up to some of the most valuable things in life.

We must be careful not to miss out on the work of our present circumstances. Faithful, ordinary work can be the extraordinary beginnings of dreams coming true. The hard and difficult situations, the ones we wish would vanish, are battle grounds of victory and strength that may be needed in the future. The daily grind of dealing with people and their needs can turn into connections that give us the resources and tools to move our hopes into new territories of growth and confidence. These are the sweet things, my friend.  

My prayer for today is that we see clearly. When we find our mind and eyes wandering to greener pastures, may our hearts bring us back to the sweetness of nearer things. To the places and circumstances where good, sustaining things are found through common, hard work and mature into sweet, beautiful lessons that bring us lasting joy and satisfaction.  


Quiet Reflections

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The quieter you become, the more you can hear. –Ram Dass

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to the day. The light breeze rippled over the surface of the lake creating a watercolor reflection of the peachy-blue, dusk lit skies. Gentle waves lapped up against the shore in a relaxing rhythm inviting me to slow my breath to its beat.  My family’s silhouettes bobbed up and down in a canoe as they paddled out toward the sunset. Echoes of their laughter bounced back to me with joy. I stood at the water’s edge to take it all in. The scene before me seemed like it was painted just for me. Painted with attention to detail and brushed with peace and love.

The rush to get to camp and the busyness of the day melted off every tense and tired muscle leaving puddles of unwanted, unnecessary stress on the shore. I felt lighter, freer. Peace quieted my mind and made space in my heart to hear. To hear is so much more difficult to do than to listen. At home, I listen to the noise of the world and responsibilities at high volume. But here, at camp, God had cleared my schedule and removed distractions. He quieted the noise and had my full attention. I was ready to receive and hear. And here are a few things I heard…

“Be still, know I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“Let me teach you and give you rest.” Matthew 11:28-29

“You are mine.”  1 John 3:1, 1 Peter 2:9

“I made you in my image, wonderfully and fearfully made, with a purpose.”  Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10

“I delight in you.” Zephaniah 3:17

“I have great things planned for you and your family. “ Jeremiah 29:11

“Let me go first. You are not alone.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Rest in the confidence of my faithfulness.”  Psalm 91:4

“Enjoy life and all I have given you.” John 10:10

And, “I love you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9, Jeremiah 31:3

God wants to paint a scene of peace and love just for you too. It might not be a lakeside sunset, but He KNOWS how best to get our individual attention with a pursuit of love, grace and mercy. God wants to help quiet our noisy hearts to embrace a quiet one, to move from half listening to wholeheartedly hearing.  So, be ready to be caught off guard (in a good way) and be ready to receive what He wants to you to hear.


Who You Are…..

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I try to lead by example and practice what I preach. So on Tuesday, when I asked you to pause and answer nine questions about yourself,  I paused and honestly answered the same questions about myself.

I think it is important to be transparent and honest. My answers are not always happy and rose-colored. Here’s one of my answers from Tuesday:

  1.  On a scale from 1-10, how tired are you? Can you pinpoint the reasons why you are tired- baby in the house, lack of sleep, dealing with stressful circumstances….?            

“Today I am about an eight!!! It’s been almost a week of sickness in our house. I still haven’t unpacked the suitcases from the trip. I have had extra loads laundry to do. Washing bedding multiple times, sometimes in the middle of the night, and disinfecting the house. The kids have been up at night. I am working through a difficult situation and praying about how best to deal with it in love.Side note: Conflict exhausts me. On top of that, I have been staying up too late instead of going to bed when I should. And we lost an hour of sleep with daylight savings time. Today, I am mentally, emotionally, and physically TIRED!”  

I want to tell you something that has been weighing on my heart all week and I think is important to get straight before we go on.

Your worth as a person is not defined by how you answered these questions.

You are not defined by your emotions.

You are not defined by exhaustion.

You are not defined by your circumstances.

You are not defined by your failures.

You are not defined by what others say that you are.

You are not defined by the car you drive, the size of your house or the clothes that you wear.

You are not defined by your past.

You are not defined by your inadequacies.

You are not defined by your housekeeping abilities (Praise Jesus!)

You are not defined by your time management skills.

You are not defined by your to-do list and how many items have been checked (or not checked off).

“God knows exactly who you are; He made you. He knows every weakness, every strength, and He loves you the same.” -Sarah Mae 1

You are defined by God alone and only God.

 God says you are…

His Child

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”– 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Chosen

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will    Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV)

A New Creation

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!–2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

His Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.–Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Loved

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)

Made Complete Through Grace and Mercy

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. –2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Dear Reader, 

You are so loved! A kind, patient, and understanding God cares about you. He wants us to go to him weary, imperfect and exhausted. He wants to be our strength, shield, comfort, and joy.  As we move forward in our discussion of time, please grab hold of these truths and keep them close to our heart. We need to stat believing who God says we are and push aside who we think we are.  Let’s not forget to invite God along with us on this journey to move forward purposely in faith and working toward learning some new things.

Xo Shanna 

Click on the link below to the print the identity verses. Place it where you can see them often and be reminded of who you really are.  

MOPS Talk-Identity in Christ Who God Says I Am