A few nights ago, I arrived home after a smoldering, hot day. My beautiful, hanging plant on the back porch was shriveled and looked terrible! Sad, but determined, I immediately poured a cup of water into the pot. I seriously thought it was a lost cause. Three hours later, I glanced out the window and saw a beautiful, vibrant plant - completely revived! God spoke to my heart in that moment, "Danita, you are like this plant." We are created to need water more than anything. It is essential. Flip it to the spiritual. We are not designed to survive without the living water Jesus offered the woman sitting at the well. A daily dose is essential to a vibrant life! Spending time, daily, with Jesus is not an item on the to-do list. We cannot survive spiritually without it. It is a daily soak that prepares us for the heat and pressure of the day. We might think we can make it without watering our souls, but eventually, we begin to look and feel like my shriveled plant. Doing whatever it takes to make time for daily, living water is essential!
Sunday, February 5, 2023
One thing is certain, Arkansas winters have a way of getting my attention. The past two weeks brought an abundance of white stuff - snow, ice and all the things. With it came the burst of freezing temps and lack of sunshine. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good snow day-wrapped up in a cozy blanket, a good book and coffee in hand, and time to just stay home. When a good snow day turns into snow weeks, my body craves some warm sunshine! It is no secret- sunshine is a natural source of goodness. God created it that way. There are a multitude of health benefits connected to time spent soaking up the sun.
Today is the first warm, sunny day we have had in a while. After morning worship, I decided to go outside and just sit in the sun. I found myself literally closing my eyes and turning my face upward-just to let the glow of the sun completely envelop my face. Oh, it felt so good. I sat there for several minutes, just literally letting my skin soak it in.
In that moment, I couldn't help but think about the comparison of health benefits connected to the SUN and spiritual benefits connected to time spent soaking up the SON. Just this week, I found myself having a conversation with a friend going through a dark time. We talked about how important it is to try to spend some time outdoors during the winter months. Winter seems to be the time depression rises to startling heights. Then, our conversation shifted to the importance of time spent with Jesus- the eternal source of light in our lives.
You see, God designed our bodies to crave physical sunshine and our souls to crave the warmth of His Son. There is no artificial light that compares. Man-made light just doesn't have the same effect. In the same way, there is no substitute for time spent with Jesus. When we turn our gaze to Him, everything else pales in comparison. When we really take time to read His Word, speak to Him in prayer and focus on His strength and love, we cannot help but feel His presence warming and lighting our entire being. Even on the cloudy days, His light is readily available. Literally looking up to the ceiling and imagining Him pouring over us soothes our anxious hearts and brings emotional healing to us in the deepest places.
Just as time spent in the sun leaves a glow to our skin, time spent in the light of the SON brings a radiance to us. Scripture tells us, we will radiate the light of Christ when we spend time in His presence. There is a light and glow to us from the inside out that no day on the beach or time spent in a tanning salon will begin to compare. There is a spiritual light that shines from within.
How do we get and maintain this glow? It takes effort and determination. Make an intentional decision to spend time in the presence of the SON every day.
How much does this glow cost? The only thing it costs is time.
You will not find an ad popping up on your phone for this glow. It is not another sales gimmick. There is no substitute or quick fix solution. However, there is an eternal promise connected to making the decision to live life everyday in His presence. The most beautiful people I have ever known, those who truly would light up a room, shared this secret many years ago. No matter where you find yourself today, take a moment to spend time with the SON, and if you can get outside, by all means do!
I think the words of one of my favorite hymns says it best:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.
in the light of His glory and grace.
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
In that moment, God whispered to my heart- Danita, it is time to re-center.
Just like my GPS, there are times I find myself moving at a rapid pace. I am on a mission, and I get caught up in the hurry to get to the next destination. Somewhere in the midst of the process, I loose focus on the present and on the most important details of the journey. I am not sure what causes a GPS to need a re-center, it just seems to happen. Isn't life the same way? We are moving along, trying to meet every need, moving from one to-do list, one obligation to the next. We meet ourselves coming and going. We think we are on the right road, but something just doesn't feel quite right. That feeling of not quite right, is our internal GPS- also known as- the Holy Spirit. If ignored, we eventually find ourselves lost with no real sense of direction. Thankfully, God understands our tendency to loose focus. He places this guide within His children as a way of prompting us to hit the re-center button in our lives.
We are quickly approaching one of my most favorite days. January 1st represents the opportunity to hit the re-center button on our hearts. This is a time to ask God to help us focus back on the core values that reflect the things most important to our purpose on this earth. A new year provides a place to start fresh. It is not shameful to admit it is time to re-center. In fact, this reveals the true character within us. It is a gift. Without an occasional re-center, we spend a lifetime doing many things, but never truly living out the life God intends. We miss the peace of clear direction. We miss the joy of the journey.
With every passing year, I am reminded how quickly we are traveling through this life. I seem to be more and more aware of the urgency to live this life well- with purpose- with intention. We exist for a much higher calling. Every encounter, every decision lead us either closer to God's best for us or further away. The good news is, we choose when it is time to re-center. God is patiently waiting. When we ask, He helps us focus our eyes on Him. He helps us see where we are and what needs to shift in order to re-center our lives back to the most important things.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.- Matthew 6:33
Monday, September 5, 2022
I secure the leash, and brace myself as the gate swings open. Our nearly 50 lb "puppy" comes barreling at me. He tugs, he pulls, he jumps and claws. He is determined. But, so am I. We spend about the first 15 minutes determining who is boss. Just about the time both of our wills are at the breaking point, he surrenders and falls into step beside me. I take him all over our hill. I let him roll and play in the grass and enjoy moments of safe freedom. We laugh and play. I scratch his belly, which he loves, and we have the best time. I explain to him, if he would surrender sooner, the other 15 minutes spent fighting could have been so much more pleasant and beneficial. It is in that moment, God speaks to my heart.
I admit, I have places of struggle. My strong-will determination to attempt to control the situation. Fighting, wresting, and trying my very best to be free. All the while, God is the one holding securely to what is truly best. Maybe like me, you can relate. Our walk with Jesus becomes so much sweeter when we cease the striving and simply walk with Him. One. Surrendered. Day at a time. What if, just for today, we surrendered our will to God's will and chose to simply live in peace? Doing the next right thing. Choosing to pray instead of worry. Intentionally setting our minds on the good, and taking captive every thought that brings defeat. Just for today, what if we let go of all the worry over future "what ifs" and simply rested in the here and now? I am convinced, our walk today will be so much more enjoyable. And, if we make this choice again tomorrow and then the next day... suddenly we have a week of peace, then a month, and then a lifetime. Suddenly, our walk becomes a delight rather than a struggle.
It is true, we cannot control circumstances, but we have the God of everything holding us securely as we walk out these days.
"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You."
- Isaiah 26:3
Friday, August 12, 2022
It was early- very early, as I laced up my tennis shoes and headed out the front door. Where I live, the only other living creature I meet on my morning walk is an occasional deer, or armadillo (which I do not particularly enjoy), and my faithful side-kick Momma Kitty. These are my absolute favorite moments of the day. Just Jesus and me. A good praise song, hands in the air worship-yes, this describes my kind of workout. Jesus and I certainly do work a number of things out during these early morning moments.
This particular morning, my Momma heart was heavy. Weighed down with a few worries and prayers over the four children we are called, and blessed to raise. As I stepped off the porch, I told the Lord, “Ok- God- today I REALLY need to hear from you. I need to see you. I need to KNOW you are listening. Just as my feet hit the gravel driveway, something caught my attention. I squinted to see. What in the world was it? I walked a little closer and was literally caught by the most splendid sight.
A bouquet. A literal bouquet of the most beautiful lilies was waiting for me. Later in the day, I texted a picture to my Mom. She said, “Oh, those are surprise lilies.” What a fitting name- God certainly surprised me! He even arranged them in perfect bouquet form. The only thing missing was a vase around them- but who needs a vase? I froze. I was stunned. The night before nothing was there, or at least, I didn’t think so! Then, it hit me. This was no random bouquet. It was God’s bouquet to my weary heart. He planted it right there for that very moment just for me to see Him. To hear Him. To KNOW He was listening. Now, you might not think this is possible. I might wonder myself if I had not personally experienced it. But here is what I do know. Nothing is impossible with our God.
He goes to great lengths to show us how much he cares and loves us. No detail, or worry, or tear goes unnoticed. It is in the small reminders that we sometimes see and hear Him the most. He prefers to speak in that still, small voice. That is why he reminds us to “Be still and Know He is God.” In the stillness of the early morning, He sends a beautiful gift…Just Because.
Have you ever experienced a “Just because” moment with God? Please share it in the comments.
It might be just the encouragement someone else needs most!
Friday, April 22, 2022
A heart out of rhythm can be a bit scary. We are moving along, and suddenly, we know something isn’t quite right. I am thankful for medical wisdom to help guide us in the right medical steps to bring our hearts back into rhythm and maintain the rhythm needed to pump life and breath into our physical bodies.
Recently, this physical wake- up call prompted me to take careful notice of the spiritual condition of the heart. We become focused on the day to day to do’s, overstretched in commitments, and sometimes preoccupied with distractions. We notice something doesn’t feel quite right. Our rhythm is off, it seems. But we press on. Until suddenly, we can’t go on. We struggle to catch our breath. We are unable to deny the fact that something is not right. We are not ok, and we know it is time for some changes. In our pause, we recap the days, weeks and months leading up to this moment. Were there warning signs? Absolutely. Did we listen? Maybe not as soon as we should have.
How do we avoid potentially fatal spiritual heart failure? First, we must put on our spiritual heart monitor. What is this monitor? God knew far in advance, we would need a guide to monitor the conditions of our heart. He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we listen and invite His guidance, He carefully sends warning signals when things are not quite right within. God speaks to us through His Word. He warns us when thoughts and feelings are out of rhythm with God’s best for us. The conviction we wish away is actually the blessing of our monitor in action. It sends the needed warning signals, and when heeded, it saves our lives.
Friend, let me share with you the importance of listening to your heart. No interruption or warning is too small to ignore. We are not designed to try to carry everything alone. We are not designed to push ourselves beyond healthy limits. God created our bodies and our souls on purpose for a beautiful purpose. ♥
Friday, March 25, 2022
My Blog posting has been less often, lately. It happens in a subtle way. Like with many things, we begin strong, like a wind-up toy. Then, gradually, we begin to slow down... If we are not careful, and intentional, we will eventually stop. Whatever it may be. Our best intentions become buried under a stack of daily duties that ultimately steal our joy and our effectiveness.
The Christian heart is FILLED with good intentions. After all, isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is doing…filling us with the fruits of the spirit, so we bear MUCH fruit. It is God’s desire to see us bearing fruit and living fruitful lives. It is God’s dream for us to live a life filled with faith risks and adventure.
A life lived on purpose, even within the most mundane tasks.
So why do we slowly loose our motivation and find ourselves standing still, rather than moving forward? It can be for a number of reason, really. One of the most common is distraction. We easily find ourselves moving constantly through our days, but like walking on a treadmill, we are caught in the day to day responsibilities so much we have no time left for the one or two things we feel most called to do. I have often heard the statement, we are doing too many things, and nothing well. There is much truth to this. What if we think about it this way..We are doing too many things, and nothing toward reaching the desires God has placed on our hearts.
One thing is certain, the treadmill of demands for our time will not stop on its own. We must be intentional about the way we are spending our hours. The first step is taking inventory of our use of time, then compare this to what we feel is our higher calling in life. How does it compare? Write it down. Where are the hours really going? Is this the picture of the life you feel called to live?
If not, it is ok! You are already one step closer by recognizing it.
It is time to take control of the moments making up our days, because they eventually become the moments that make up our lives. How sad, to get to the end of our lives and know we really never did that thing we felt God calling us to do. To know we spent a lifetime running a race on a treadmill that kept us in one place rather than on the adventure of Faith God had for us.
We cannot change how we have spent the hours of our past, but we can move forward with intentional decisions that will ultimately lead us to the sweet place of fulfilling our God-given destiny. And when we are living life this way, even the most mundane tasks become a little more enjoyable. ♥