We don’t get a lot of weather in Southern California. However, we had a good rain storm the past few days and more coming. Our local foothills even got snow. This is a picture from my front porch. So gorgeous. I even did my tea time with God on my porch to enjoy it, even though it was only 46 degrees. That’s cold for us.
I’m not a hiker or “get out in nature” gal. I prefer the beach. I love rain. Not a huge mountain person unless I’m cozy inside with tea and a book or a picture window to see the snow. I do know when to sit and take in the weather. When it rains, I wear rainboots. I always carry an umbrella when it rains, even a drizzle. We get it so little here that I milk it for what I can. That is how I want to live my life.
When I see a moment that can be savored, I do it. I savored watching my kids have a tickle fight and didn’t break it up. I savored watching my dog tear apart his toy because it made him so happy. I savored snow on our foothills in 46 degree weather. I savored a rare hug when a friend in my Covid bubble visited. I savored lemonade in winter as my tree is full of lemons. What can you savor today?
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13 NIV
I’ve blogged about this before. Don’t give the “I’m fine” pat answer when someone asks how you are. Are you fine? Chances are, you aren’t. One caveat: if you are talking to someone you who know is an unsafe person, just say, “I’m fine.”
Pastor Tate used the phrase “your humanity is showing” in online church yesterday. This means, your realness is out there. When someone sees your humanity, they see the real you and your real emotions. Allowing yourself to be real is very important these days. Everyone is going through a hard time right now. We are all at varying degrees of tough right now. When you pretend all is well, you are telling them it’s not OK for them to not be OK. Your humanness allows others to be vulnerable with you.
For example, if my friend asks how I am and I say, “I am OK in general but I’m struggling with my fears about the future.” That gives your friend permission to 1) encourage you, 2) comfort you and 3) share his/her own struggles. “I’m fine” shuts down the conversation. You response opens up dialog or stops it.
Another benefit of letting “your humanity show” is that it allows God to shine through. We have all heard we are God’s vessels. We are the clay and He is the potter. If our vessel gets cracked by this world, God will fix it. However, we may still have a crack where the break occurred. The beauty of that crack is that is the place God shines through. God is glorified when we share our stories of being broken or worn down. He is the one who picked us up and kept us going. Hope shines through when we show our humanity.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~ Isaiah 64:8 NIV
If we are “fine” all the time, how will others see God’s work in our life? If we are “fine” all the time, how can others learn how to encourage and comfort with the comfort they have received from God? If we are “fine” all the time, how will others knows it’s OK not to be fine? If we are “fine” all the time, how will the world see that our strength and hope comes from Jesus alone?
Let’s not say “I’m fine” anymore. How about “I’m leaning on God’s hope today” or “Struggling but I read a verse that encouraged me” or “Not good. Could we pray?” Let your humanity show this week.
I will spend the next 21 days fasting and praying. For many people, fasting means not eating or abstaining from a certain food or beverage. Fasting can be giving up anything. For me, I will be fasting Facebook (except this blog) for 21 days. In the time I would have spent on Facebook, I will spend with God. Reading His word is one of the activities I will engage in more. Prayer is the other activity that will increase. If you would like to join my church in our daily reading and prayer prompts, go to http://madeforfellowship.com/january/ and scroll down to 21 Day Fast information.
Have you ever fasted? It was a new concept for me several years ago. The first time I fasted it was tough. Really tough. I gave up a favorite TV show – Oprah. I know, I know, it’s just TV. However, it was a daily thing I watched. The hour of Oprah was a habit I had. During that season of fasting, I am not sure how close I got to God. Honestly, I was more focused on not watching Oprah that I didn’t add in the part to replace Oprah-time with God-time. However, after the fast ended, so did my preprogrammed recording of Oprah on my VCR (yes it was that long ago). The next time I fasted, I gave up another show – Ellen. However, this time, I replaced that time with time with God. I was changed. I also stopped watching Ellen daily after the fast. This time I was closer to God.
The goal of fasting isn’t to lose weight or drop a habit. However, that may be a nice byproduct of fasting. The goal of fasting is to draw closer to God. To be still and listen to God’s voice is a key component. If I abstain from an activity or behavior, I use that time to draw near to God. How can you draw near to God in a fast? I will be reading scripture. Our church is providing a guide for that but you can read whatever part of the Bible you want. I will also spend time in prayer. Our church has given us a prayer guide but I also plan to sit in silence in my prayer time to listen to God’s response. The goal is God.
Friends, we are in a tough season in our world. I don’t need to spell out all the chaos, fear and lies that are running rampant. I can say, God is all you need. He truly is. He will calm the storm. He will comfort you in the storm. He will calm your fears. He is the way and the truth and the life. He is our hope. When you fast, the time you spend will God will change your heart. You will be convicted. You can then choose to repent and go a new direction – into God’s way. You will be encouraged. You can then encourage others with what you learned and how you were encouraged. You will be changed. You can then be a new creation in Christ.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” ~ Joel 2:12 NIV
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ~ Matthew 6:16-18 NIV
I encourage you to consider taking time to fast for 21 days with me. You can fast from anything you want – screen time, a certain food item, a beverage, sugar (yikes), a TV show, etc. Replace that time with time with God. If you plan to do it, let me know in the comments. Since I will be fasting Facebook, I will only be reading comments on my blog for 21 days. Give me something to read.
I watched all of these movies this Christmas season. I truly did. I only missed one, “Swept Up by Christmas”, because it wasn’t available. I was given the gift of Hallmark Channel for one month. One of my favorite gifts this season. I love these movies. In this time of Covid, it was the perfect escape. I am sure a few of you are thinking, get a life Debbie. I do have a life and it includes joyful movies. Let me explain my fascination.
First off, it’s a harmless escape. The movies are all rated G or less. The Christmas ones have beautiful décor and scenery. It is serene. There is such peace in the beauty. Sometimes it’s cutesy Christmas and that’s fun too. It just a feel good 90 minutes (I skip commercials). It allows me to smile and feel warm and fuzzy.
Secondly, I am avoiding the news. I am so tired of their reports that are one sided and only drive up everyone’s fear quotient. I am not watching suspense or thrillers to avoid feeling anxiety. We have enough right now in our society. I realized the formula for Hallmark movies is why I like them. The tension mounts before the last, or 2nd to last, commercial. It’s resolved by the next commercial. There is also the kiss too. Usually in the last moments of the show. It’s clockwork and it works.
Lastly, I’m tired. My brain is working overtime these days. Working full-time from home is great because I don’t have a commute but it means work is always there waiting. Processing the latest updates on Covid brings fear. I release the fear to God then refocus on His promises. This is helpful but mentally exhausting. I’m tired and Hallmark takes ZERO energy. It is a place for me to chill. I often need a break from any mental or physical activity. This has been my resting of choice lately.
Now that my subscription has ended, what now? I will continue to spend time with God. I will continue to limit what type of shows I watch. I will find ways to seek rest that are life giving. I will continue to avoid the news and the posts that drive up fear.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8 NIV
Find things in your life that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and/or praiseworthy. You will find rest for your mind and your soul.
Dream Big! Pray Big!
P.S. I know my blog is late this week. I am aware of what is going on in the world today in D.C. However, a little escapism in my blog is a good break. I am choosing light hearted today because the world is very heavy otherwise.