The rhythms of life that we’ve all grown so accustomed to have found themselves turned upside-down. What does it look like to find a new rhythm? Join me for a quick look at what it means for us, so far as well as what to expect in the near future.
“Oh God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly;
my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
– Psalm 63:1
Word of the Year
At the end of 2019, I did what so many of us do – I reflected. I thought about what I’d accomplished in the year as well as the ways I’d grown and the many areas in life where I hadn’t achieved quite what I’d set out to do.
There’s been a trend for some time now for people to choose a word that will be their focus for the year. Sometimes it’s simply a word that a person chooses based on what they hope to accomplish, while some people seek God to give them a word. I’ve sought God in this process multiple times over the years but it seems like He wasn’t super keen on my approach. It’s equally possible that I just wasn’t being a good listener. It’s a problem I sometimes have. Can I get a witness?
This year, as I moaned and groaned to God about why He never gives me a word for the year (please tell me I’m not alone in sounding like a whiny kid when I talk to God), He answered. And man…how.
Standing in the shower, I felt a spiritual gut-punch like I’ve not often felt. And the word “Enough” hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew, hands down, that God was giving me exactly what I’d been begging for: a word to focus on.
Here’s how I knew: I’d spent the bulk of 2019 comparing myself with every other person around me. I compared myself to other podcasters, writers, speakers, musicians, needlework designers – all the fields I’m a part of. Daily I was feeding on everyone else’s success and instead of rejoicing with them in their victories, their accomplishments were rotting in my heart and festering into an emotional bile that left me feeling more bitter than blessed by being surrounded by people that are walking in their gifts with grace and purpose.
That day in the shower, this is the conclusion I felt like God was bringing me to: I, Brandy, am enough. The call that God has placed on my life is enough. The talents He has given me and the ability He’s given me to grow those talents, is enough. The arena He’s put me in, no matter its shape or size is enough. And above all…He is Enough.
Thus began my year of Enough.
Enough is Enough
But Friends, we are in February and I am here to tell you, that when God gives you a thing to focus on, He won’t quit just because you think you’ve learned the lesson. If that were the case, I’d have been good two weeks into January when all of the above truths were affirmed at a women’s worship night I attended at a local church.
Instead, here’s where we are now, God and I.
After my shower revelation, aka Holy Spirit gut-punch, I sat down and made a plan to read through the Bible in a year. Mind you, I’ve done this before, though not in some time. Not only is reading through the Bible a good practice to develop but it also seemed like a really sound way to be reminded of all the ways God is faithful and how He truly is Enough. So, I did some research, found the Bible reading plan I wanted to use, transferred January’s reading into my faith journal where my plan was to keep track of reading, my prayers and gratitude, as well as write Sunday sermon notes and a little reflection at the end of every week. It all seemed so simple.
Until January 4th hit. There was nothing special about that particular day. I just didn’t read. No big deal…I can make that up easily on the 5th. Oops…..well…. Now it’s January 12, I have 9 days of reading to do and listen…I do NOT have time for that!
Less than 2 weeks in and I’d already failed miserably. Again.
In fact, the only part of my faith journal that I’ve managed to be consistent with up to now is keeping my sermon notes. For some reason, finding – or rather making – the time to sit down and read my Bible for 15-20 minutes a day has been impossibly difficult. So much so, that here we are nearly done with February and I’m still working on finishing January’s reading. Oy vey.
Give Lent a Chance
But…yesterday marked the first day of Lent. Now, I’m not a Catholic and have never been very big on the kinds of traditional observances of our more liturgical brethren, but this year I attended our church’s Ash Wednesday service and decided to give Lent a try while I reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf so that I could know God intimately and eternally.
Once again, I found myself in the shower whining to God about what to give up for Lent. (God probably wishes I didn’t shower so much as I seem to get very needy then). I went through a litany of things I could give up: TV time. No. Soda. Nope. Listening to podcasts. What??? Social Media. Uh-uh. The list went on and on and my heels dug in.
Finally, after days of praying and considering, I landed on the thing. I’m giving up my time.
What does that even mean?
Giving Up and Gaining More
I’ll tell ya. It means that instead of jumping right into work before I’ve even gotten dressed (working from home is a blessing and a curse), or rather than watching YouTube for an hour while I cross stitch because that’s my therapy or any of the other million distractions I can find, I am devoting 40 minutes for 40 days over to God.
Here’s what that looks like for me: Given that my work mostly keeps me in front of a computer all day, I am lacing up my sneakers, grabbing my earbuds and phone and taking a stroll through our neighborhood while I listen to an audio Bible app. Three birds; one stone. I get physical exercise, God’s word seeps into my heart, and I might…might…even get caught up on my Bible reading plan.
If I want to fully understand what it means for me to be enough and more importantly what it means for God to be enough, I have to spend time hearing from God. I have to see the myriad ways He has been enough to millions of people before me, how His faithfulness is certain and that no matter what storms life may throw at me, God is a safe refuge for me to trust in.
What about You? Is there anything you’ve decided to let go of during this season of Lent? What about your resolutions? Are you keeping them? Tell me how I can pray for you – I’d be honored to lift you up before our God.
Christmas is a magical time of year full of sparkle and anticipation. It’s easy to get distracted with the gifts and the carols and food and fun. With that in mind, how do we get quiet enough to really celebrate the birth of our Savior? What does it mean to experience God?
Join me this week for a conversation with the host of the podcast, Halfway There and author of “Jesus is Willing: An 8 Day Experience,” Eric Nevins as we dive into how to more fully experience God this Christmas holiday. You’ll learn a great way to spend meaningful time in scripture without feeling overwhelmed and pressured to ‘do it right.’
It seems like a relatively easy question to address, and pragmatically, it is. But when you stop and let the question hit you – when you feel its weight – it requires that you take more time to truly evaluate what you’re doing with your life and what, if anything, needs to change.
This question comes directly from the Genesis Process Change Groups Book 1 written by Michael Dye, CADC, NCAC II.
The Genesis Process has been a huge part of my own recovery process over the years. It helped clarify why I continue to do things that I know are bad for me, even when I don’t want to do them. That being said, like everyone else, I am a complicated being and easily find myself stumbling into the same bad patterns. In short, like you, I am in need of sanctification and that’s what Genesis does. If you have the opportunity to join a Genesis Process for Change Group near you, I’d highly encourage you to do so.
The other book that I mentioned is called “One Month to Live” by Kerry and Chris Shook. The subtitle is “Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life.” That pretty well sums it up. If you get the audio version, it is read by the authors, which is always a nice little addition. You can find the link here: One Month to Live
These are quick little stops along the way, as we go along on our journey of faith and understanding of who God is and who he says we are to Him. May they bless you as you meditate on God’s work throughout the week.
Special thanks to the 126ers for the use of their song “Rainy Days” as the intro and outro.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” – Matthew 5:7
Mentioned well over 300 times in the Bible, mercy is a word we probably ought to pay more attention to. Especially in this day and age when politics and religion are getting co-mingled in ways that often make us forget that first and foremost, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
The biblical definition for the word mercy, as used by Jesus in his sermon on the mount, is this: to be compassionate (by word or deed, specifically by divine grace); have compassion (pity on).
Meanwhile, Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it this way: 1. a refraining from harming offenders, enemies, etc., 2. imprisonment rather than death for a capital crime, 3. a disposition to forgive or be kind, 4. the power to forgive, 5. a lucky thing; blessing.
This episode, as well as talking about what mercy is, we also focus on how to live a life of mercy in our day to day lives. We’ll look at 1 Peter 3:8-12 in the ERV (Easy to Read Version).
So all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind [compassionate; merciful] and humble. Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing. The Scriptures say,
‘If you want to enjoy true life and have only good days, then avoid saying anything hurtful, and never let a lie come out of your mouth. Stop doing what is wrong, and do good. Look for peace, and do all you can to help people live peacefully. The Lord watches over those who do what is right, an, and he listens to their prayers. But he is against those who do evil.’
Listen in to this week’s episode to see some examples of how this might look in your own life.
We all know what it’s like to be hungry and thirsty, longing for something to fill our bellies. But what about our souls? What if there was a way to fill up the mysterious void we all seem to have deep down inside us?
Join Brandy this week for a quick lesson on Beatitude #4 to learn how you, too can be satisfied to your deepest core.
If we are born into this world we will, at some point, experience the exquisite pang of loss. We will weep for what was and mourn what will never be again. This world, it seems is the perfect training ground for grief and sadness.
But Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, as found in Matthew chapter 5, tells his followers, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
He doesn’t elaborate on this point, or frankly, any of the points he’s making in this exact moment of his discourse. He leaves it plain and simple. Essentially what he’s saying is, “The people who mourn will be happier than those that don’t because they’ll be comforted.”
Well, that seems odd, doesn’t it? Because like I said, if life teaches us anything, it’s that we’re all going to mourn at some point. So, what makes this statement so poignant?
This week, Brandy explores this brief beatitude by looking further into Jesus’ own suffering, the mission he was prophetically called to when he stepped into humankind as a man, and the mission of his second coming.
We’ll be looking at Matthew 5:5, John 11:32-38a, Isaiah 61:1-3, and 2 Corinthians 1:3.
The fact is, we are not alone in our suffering and grief. We have a God who can relate to our pain and has stepped into it with us.
Listen to this week’s episode to find out how well he can relate to us and what he promises us as our future with him unfurls.
This incredible passage is found in Matthew 5 and opens up one of the greatest sermons ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount. Here, Jesus is pretty early on in his ministry and with a large crowd gathered around, he takes the time to teach his disciples what it means to be a follower of Christ.
And man does He start with a bang! Rather than telling the disciples how great it’s all going to be, this whole following Jesus thing, he immediately tells them how blessed it is to be poor in spirit. What!?!?!?
Join me, Brandy, as together we look at what exactly it means to be poor in spirit and how our earthly wealth, however limited it may be, might be the very thing that’s holding us back from knowing the greatest inheritance we could ever imagine.
In this episode, we’ll explore the effects of wealth as documented in this article.
We’ll also read over through Matthew 5:1-16 and dive deep into verses 1 and 2. We’ll also take a look at Matthew 19:16-24 when Jesus instructs a young man to get rid of his possessions and follow Him.
Fear not, my friends! I don’t think Jesus is asking us all to give up everything we own and all the comforts we have in order to follow and serve Him. But He is asking us to consider our attitudes towards those things.
So, take my hand and let me guide you through this challenging beatitude that has me questioning my own attitudes and beliefs about what I own and why. Who knows, maybe this will even be the start to decluttering our homes!?
At every stoplight, merge, on or off-ramp…everywhere. And I hate them. I get so easily angered by their lack of consideration, their downright ineptitude at doing what is really, so easy. They take up more room than necessary and shouldn’t even be allowed out, in my opinion. You know who I’m talking about. You may even be one of them. (I’m sorry, by the way, if you are).
They are…slow drivers.
Gah!!! I can’t tell you how often I feel like ripping off my very own face because the person in front of me in the passing lane is going 5 miles under the speed limit. Not to mention the yahoo in the right lane who is doing the same.
Or what about the people who are turning off, either into a parking lot, a road or an exit off the highway? They’re no better when they start applying the brakes well before it’s necessary, their blinker disengaged so that I’m not even sure what their intentions are.
Seriously. I have very little patience for most people who are behind the wheel. I’ve been known to say, more than once, “No one should even be allowed to drive when I’m driving because they’re all idiots.”
Listen, I know it isn’t nice. I know I need to work on my attitude. And I’m trying. Honest.
But I imagine, my thoughts and feelings toward ‘bad’ drivers aren’t a whole lot different from Jonah’s thoughts and feelings toward the Ninevites.
Think about it. The Ninevites were described by God in Jonah 1:1 as wicked. Jonah, on the other hand, was a prophet. He had been given a job by God, to take a message of repentance and redemption to the Ninevites, his enemies. And Jonah didn’t want to do it.
It’s easy for me to look at this story and think, ‘Come on, Jonah. Get up and preach this message of salvation to people who obviously need it.’ I mean, really…why can’t he show them a little bit of love and grace?
But then I remember my attitude when I drive. (Zoinks!) If I apply the same principles, I’m no better than Jonah. Sure, I’m not preaching the gospel as I drive, but I am still representing Christ, even if it isn’t blatant.
I think it’s easy to say and do all the right things when we know that people are aware of Who we belong to. But in the safety of my own car, where I have very intentionally not put up any Christian bumper stickers, I can feel pretty confident that no one is going to call me out on my lack of patience hollering, “What would Jesus do?”
Jonah didn’t want his enemies to have what he’d been given – a path to God. Likewise, I don’t want to extend to my ‘enemies’ the grace that I’ve been given. It’s really all the same, isn’t it?
God has called us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). He’s called us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). He has called us to do the greatest job of all, to go into ALL the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20).
It’s hard, isn’t it, to want to give what we’ve been given to people we don’t think deserve it? Then again, God gave us grace and a message of repentance, hope, and redemption when we didn’t deserve it. So…who are we to say who’s worthy and who isn’t?
Who are your Ninevites? Who is it that God is calling you to share the good news with, or even just extend a little extra patience and grace? And what can you do today to start running toward the call that God has given you?
Now, excuse me while I go repent and please…don’t drive in the passing lane unless you’re passing.