Reflections

In this culture, we are told to constantly look for the next step in life. In elementary school people want to know what middle school you’re going to, then middle to high, high to college, college to career, career to marriage, marriage to children, children to college fund, etc. That’s the cycle of life. Always looking to the next phase.

But what are we missing in the process by continuing to the next phase? What part of us are we not developing because we’re so focused on being somebody someday? Let’s look at this practically.

We have 7 days in a week. 5 days to work. And a whopping 2 days to rest and recover to be ready for the following week when we could be spending those 2 days really delving into what insights and lessons we learned the previous week. Who was I this week? Did I help people when I could? What mistakes did I make that I need to work on in the future?

Now, this isn’t an invitation to dwell in the past, but I think we learn from the experiences we have. This isn’t a new concept, just a different way of looking it at. Something simple to do would be to sit down for dinner with family/roommates and talk about highs and lows from each day. This is a great way to encourage the people in our lives, but also challenge them on areas they may need that extra push.

I’ve learned so much through this discipline. There is much value in soaking in the moment rather than looking for the next moment. Not to say that I’m perfect at this because there are many times I wish time would go faster to get home as quickly as possible from a long day at school or work. But this idea has been something I’ve thought a lot about. If we could spend an entire day at least once a week, completely still and calm in front of the throne, I think the Lord could do so much through us. Teach us, mold us, shape us, into His beloved children that He already loves so dearly. We could really listen to His desires for the world He loves. We could find our true identity in who the Creator says we are. We could find rest, refuge, and restoration in the arms of the One who gave everything for us. As I type these words, I feel a sense of anticipation and excitement because these “coulds” can be “wills”, “dos”,”dids”!

Why do we hold back? What can we let go of?

We’ll never be the people God wants us to be if we spend our lives waiting to become somebody in the next phase of life. We have access now to become who we want to be. Let’s spend time processing and reflecting on who we are each day. Learn from life experiences and move forward to become the person God made us to be.

Embracing the positive — thoughts on Belize

March 7, 2014 was the start of a crazy awesome adventure that I felt the Lord calling me to. I had no idea what amazing time was ahead, but I knew it was going to be a time of growth and exploration of myself as well a group of people that I’m not that close with.

I must say that the comforts of home and familiarity are beginning to hit me pretty hard. I miss my normal routine, family, friends & roomies, clean water from the sink, sleeping in my own bed, putting toilet paper in the toilet instead of the trash can, having my own time to relax and be by myself, and well-paved roads.

But all that is worth the adventure. Denying the needs of self is one of the most humbling and life-giving things a person can do. Taking on and embracing another culture feels so weird but also liberating. If there’s anything I’ve learned from visiting other countries it’s that I have a lot of good things in my life, there’s truly nothing I can complain about. Being high maintenance is not only annoying for other people to be around, but you don’t really get to experience the greatness that a culture can offer if you only look at the negatives or things they don’t have here. Don’t do it, it’s incredibly “typical American”, and that’s the last impression you want to leave on a culture.

I used to be one of those people that freaked out when something went wrong. “Why did it go wrong? How can I fix it? I’m so mad at myself right now! I had everything all planned out. I don’t know what to do??” All thoughts that went through my head when things didn’t go my way. I’ve learned that life is so much better when I let go of the little things that bother me. Let go of little annoyances and things I can’t control and embrace what life presents in that moment. These are all lessons I’m learning this week in Belize. It’s really easy to be frustrated, but we naturally want to think negatively about ourselves and the people around us. People really need to hear positive comments. What went right here? What did this person do well? What wins did we see in the lesson today? etc.¬†It’s that easy. Really, it is.

Something that I’ve loved so far is that each day is a new day and I wake up asking the Lord to give me perspective, strength, and love for the people in my group, the students I come across, and the locals that help provide for the needs of our group.

Each day is a new day to be thankful right where I am, 100 % of me invested in the lesson plans (that have already fallen throughout a bit, but hey that’s the life of a teacher!) and take in each moment as it comes. There’s so much beauty in each moment with each person we come in contact with. Embrace it.

Practice Makes Confidence

We’ve all heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect”. The idea is that the more we do something, the better we get at it. It may not necessarily mean that we are going to be “perfect” at it, but we can get really good if we do it enough times.

I would like to officially rename this phrase, “practice makes confidence” because the more times we do something the more confidence we build to do it the next time. This is also known as positive reinforcement for all you psychology majors out there.

So now that we’ve had this little mini-lesson into what this well-known phrase is and what it should be, why is it relevant right here and now?

Many intelligent people understand this concept. We go to school to learn about our field of work. For example, education majors go to school to learn, but also practice what they learn in field placements so that they can experience the knowledge as well as possess it internally.

Communication or business majors get internships with companies while they are in school so that they can begin practicing what they know in a real and useful environment.

As a culture we get that the more we do something, the better we get at it.

The question I ask now is why don’t we practice our faith as believers? This can mean more than evangelizing to every person we come in contact with. Most believers think that in order to practice the faith, we must share the gospel. That is it, there is no other way of practicing what we know.

Although I wholeheartedly believe that is a part of practicing the faith, because Jesus says to do so, I don’t believe that is the end all for how to practice our faith.

Practice can mean things like standing in line at restaurant on campus and hearing the voice of the Lord say something like, “pay for the person behind you.”

It can mean praying for a friend who just shared all of the terrible things that happened to her that day.

It can mean cleaning the apartment for your roommate because she had a rough day at work.

Although it may seem like all of these things are just good deeds for other people, I see selflessness in each as well as a strong connection to hearing the voice of The Lord.

How can I hear the voice of the Lord? You got it, practice listening. Sit still, listen to a song, read the Word.

There is grace to fall back on when we don’t get it right. If you are aligning your desire for The Lord’s he won’t trick you into thinking that you may or may not hear Him.

Let me share a personal example with you. I lead a group of girls from my church in huddle twice a month where we share how the Lord is moving in our lives and how we can take action steps towards becoming more like Him. Each week, I challenge these ladies, as well as myself, to hear from the Lord right in the moment. To share pictures, words, phrases, encouragements, or verses the Lord sharing right in the exact moment for someone in the group. At the very beginning of huddle, I asked this question, “How can we hear the Lord’s voice in the midst of all other voices?” It has been the guiding question throughout because many of us were stumped. What a loaded question!

But I’ve to come to this conclusion and shared this with the girls, if you feel like the Lord is saying something, say it. Proclaim it. Practice it. The more you think you hear Him, the more He will reveal to you and you will know it’s Him. Sometimes He makes himself pretty clear by speaking through other people, but practice hearing from Him directly. It sounds too good to be true, and it seems harder than what it is. But that’s it. That’s all there is to it.

I started off totally skeptical and unsure of how the whole, “listen to the Holy Spirit” thing was supposed to work. But the more a good friend of mine pushed me into pursuing the practice, the more I understood it’s importance. It’s all about the process.

Too often we see spiritual leaders as those who hear from The Lord more clearly. FYI, we all have the same access to the Throne of Grace. There is no rank in who’s more spiritual in God’s eyes. The only difference is that spiritual leaders have a greater sense confidence from practicing hearing the Lord’s voice.

Let us practice hearing from the Lord so that all other areas of our faith can be practiced as well. I believe the first step in practicing our faith is hearing from The Lord. Everything else that we do will spring from what He tells us personally.

What are some good practices you can make this week in order to find confidence from the Lord?

Please share below!