Category Archives: Habits

Overwhelming GRACE

0verwhelming GRACE

overwhelming GRACE

Overwhelming GRACE

by Lydia Floren

When life seems overwhelming, it is hard to wait on God. And even when we choose to be still,  our minds can continue to race, robbing us of this precious time to re-energize and refocus.

Praying GRACE is an awesome way to break free of swirling thoughts, and drink in God’s peace and love.

Give thanks:

Thank you, God, that you are here. You love me, and those Iove. You know exactly what is going on. You meet me right where I am and are leading me in the next step. You are powerful and have everything under control. I am safe.

Release:

Father, you know all of these things swirling around in my head. I just leave them one by one at your feet. You are in control. I don’t need to be, and frankly, I can’t be.  Thank you for helping me to see that. Forgive me when I try to take control instead of trusting you.

Accept:

Father, I accept the lighter load of following you, instead of trying to figure out everything on my own. I accept Your leadership and direction. Right now I choose to listen as you speak through your word, and your still small voice within me.

Continue:

God, I choose to continue moving forward in the way you have already led me, trusting you to make clear any changes that need to be made.  Thank you that even if/when things don’t seem clear, you will open doors, close others, helping me to see plainly which way to go.

Enjoy:

Father thank you that I can just enjoy the day in front of me, knowing that You’re with me–reassuring, guiding, loving. I can enjoy each moment knowing that you’re taking care of everything, and that you have the big picture in mind.

                This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

you are lovely, and loved.

God's grace is overwhelming

Prepping for Success

3:9:16 Prepping for successby Lydia Floren

It is always soul-enriching, being with God. Why do I wait? What could possibly give me more life than spending time in His presence? Having those moments that soak into my soul?

Nothing.

Prepping for success

How can we be prepping for success? How do we minimize distractions first thing in the morning, and optimize our chances of success, in this all important meeting with The Person Who Loves Us Most? Here are a few thoughts that have helped me:

1. Restrict my daily “To Do” list to 5 items. I only allow 5 things on my to do list every day, and #1 is “Be loved by God, and listen.“

2. Plan and Prepare the night before:

  • Straighten up the night before, especially the area where I have my prayer/time with God.
  • Make this area inviting—soothing, peaceful. Pictures, flowers, music at the ready.
  • Get coffee set up to go automatically.
  • Have my journal/Bible/materials set out.
  • Go to bed on time, and set my alarm.

2. Keep a running task list handy. When things I need to do, or ideas I have, start crowding my mind, I can write them down and get them out of my head.

3. Continue reviewing my priorities and goals, so other things don’t creep into my life and
rob me of the most important things.

What do you do to stay focused in your daily meeting with God? Please share! I would love to hear from you!

A Recurring Struggle

3:3:16 Recurring Struggleby Lydia Floren

It happened again. I got distracted, and pretty soon two hours had passed and I still hadn’t spent any time alone with God. Once again, I let other things keep me from meeting Him at the first of my day: an unfinished project, a messy house, calls to make, emails to answer. It is a recurring struggle.

I am not alone in this recurring struggle.

C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,

“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving that all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in and so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussing and fretting; coming in out of the wind.

“We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system, because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.”
Wow. Moments of “letting that other, larger, stronger quieter life come flowing in.” . Moments of joy, of peace, of finding perspective, of talking to my best friend. The more I have of these, the more I hunger for them.

Everything really does fall into place once I take the time to really connect with God, soaking in His love and presence.

Worth the effort, I think.

What are your thoughts?

What Should I Do Now? Making Plans

2:25:16 What should I do Nowby Lydia Floren

Last week in “What Should I Do Next?”, I wrote about making plans. I’m not going to lie. Planning takes time and perseverance. It is hard to make myself take a chunk of time to pray through and decide what is the best way to spend my time and resources.

But tough choices aren’t just limited to making plans.

When we face dilemmas, we ask ourselves, “What should I do now?
Many times we are faced with dilemmas in life – difficult relationships, career decisions, parenting concerns. Everything seems muddled. We can feel totally at a loss about how to respond, or which way to go. And it stresses us out. We need wisdom beyond our own understanding.

Proverbs 2 has some great insight:
“If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Prov. 2:1-5

Here’s another way to say these verses:

Steps Toward Wisdom (paraphrase of Prov. 2:1-5)

  • Accept and store up God’s word:  make a practice of exposing yourself to the truth of God’s word and God’s presence every day. Respect it. Let it sink into your heart and spirit.
  • Listen: Pay attention to how God might be speaking to you in your situation. Do your best to try to understand what He is saying in your heart through His word and His presence.
  •  ASK HIM for His perspective on your situation. Plead with Him to increase your understanding beyond what you can do on your own.
  • Search for God’s wisdom. Actively look for His insight. Let that be the most important thing to you, more important than the facts that you have gathered, your own conclusions, or the opinions others.

When you do these things, you will find the knowledge you seek about what your next steps should be. And you will experience just how amazing God is.

Remembering our highest priority keeps everything in perspective.
When we make our relationship with God our highest priority, He helps us put everything in perspective, and gives us wisdom beyond our own understanding.

Is your relationship with God your highest priority in life? How do your choices of how you spend your time and resources reflect that priority? What plans/steps can you make to better accept, listen, ask and search for God’s wisdom?

“And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”  Jer. 29:12

What Should I Do Next?

2:19:16 What should I do Nextby Lydia Floren

Did you know that God is a planner? He said, “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” In my opinion, part of following God is learning to ask for His wisdom, and make plans.

Plans remind me of what is most important.
Every January, I take some time to pray about the coming year, review priorities, goals and commitments. and make some plans. This time of prayerful planning helps me remind myself of what is most important, and then set goals that align accordingly.

Plans keep me from getting sidetracked.
Making plans also helps me because I am easily distracted. I have lots of interests, and it is easy for me to collect projects like some people collect stray cats. I have learned that when I pray and plan at the first of the year, and then periodically revisit those plans, I am more likely to not get sidetracked. Later in the year when I am juggling a half dozen incomplete projects, and I am driving myself crazy (ok, others, too), I can refer back to this plan and have some guidance about which time commitments to continue and which to set aside.

Plans help in answering what should I do next?
Do things go according to plan? Not always – sometimes not at all. But having the reference point of a prayfully made plan really helps when I get mired down in everyday life, and keeps me focused on what is really important. It helps me answer the questions,  “What should I do next?” and “What should I do now?”

What benefits do you get from making plans? Have you prayed about any plans for this year?

The Meeting

The Meetingby Lydia Floren

Imagine: You are involved in a big building project. Not only are you working there everyday, but you are living on-site, too. The venture is a huge undertaking. So much so, that the Architect, a world-renowned expert, also lives and works on the premises.

Every morning as you awake, your mind floods with all the things that need to be done. Your mental list is so long, you hardly know where to start. You drag out of bed and clamber down the hall in search of coffee, already sorting through the priorities in your mind.

As you sip your java and start committing your list to paper, you remember, “Oh, yeah, I have that daily 7 AM meeting with the Architect…. Do I really have time for that?”

There have been days when you’ve made it to the meeting, and others when you haven’t.

“Still,” you say to yourself, “The day does go so much better when I do make that meeting.”

He helps you focus on what’s most important. He trouble-shoots difficulties you have encountered, and helps find solutions. And, more often than not, when you make that daily meeting, you end up working the rest of your day with Him, enjoying His company and learning from His expertise.

“You know,” you think, “On the days I make that meeting I not only accomplish more, but I have more fun doing it.”

Why does that surprise you?

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

Foundation Stones (Rocks Series Part 3)

Foundation Stonesby Lydia Floren

We all have rocks in our heads, lies that need to be dislodged by truth.  As these are removed, they are replaced by bedrock truths we can build a life on.  I call these truths Foundation Stones.  Here are a few of my favorite Foundation Stones:

  • God knows and loves me right now, as I am.  (Psalm 139:1-6)  God’s love for me is constant, and is independent of my choices. He doesn’t love me more when I follow Him, or love me less when I don’t.  He doesn’t love me more when I try to be perfect, or less when I realize that I can’t.  God has hopes for me, not expectations.
  • God is invested; He is “all-in” with me. He came to get me.  He died for me.  He overrode death for me.  Hard to get more invested in loving me than that.
  • God is trustworthy.  He will do what He says.  I can count on Him
    • to be with me
    • to take care of me
    • to work in the world. God is active in this world, and when bad things happen to me, He will turn them into something good..  Even when I don’t understand what is going on, I can be sure that I am in good hands, and He will use the circumstances to create the best outcome.
  • God is my Father. He has adopted me as His child. I belong to Him, and to His family.  This isn’t hyperbole.  I am his daughter.  His very own.
  • God is good company. Wise. Interested. Peaceful. Considerate. I can be content with Him.
    God’s most dominant characteristic is His love. He tells us that he IS love.

Billy Graham wrote,
“His love is not a passing fancy or a superficial emotion; it is a profound and unshakable commitment that seeks what is best for us.  Human love may change or fade; God’s love never will.  He says to us, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’ (Jeremiah 31:3)”
http://belovedlove.org/reflections/tag/billy-graham/

These are just some of my foundation stones.  What are yours?  What are you building your life on?

Good Hands

Recent Posts:

Rocks In My Head (Rocks Series Part 1)

Loosening the Rocks (Rocks Series Part 2)

Rocks In My Head: Rocks Series Part I

Rocks in My Head

 

by Lydia Floren

I have struggled with perfectionism a long time. Perfectionism is based in the false idea “you must be perfect to be OK.”  This lie is embedded deep in my head, like a big rock surrounded by hard earth.  In order to dislodge it, I have to chip away at the dirt and debris that surrounds it. With a boulder like this, it can take persistent effort to get it out of my thought process.  But if I keep at it, sooner or later the rock will shift, and then shift a little more.  Eventually, it will loosen to the point that it just tumbles down the hill, and out of my life.  I experience a “paradigm shift”:  a sudden change in the way I look at the world.  It’s like a prism in the sun—when it turns, the light catches it at another angle, and a different color is revealed.  

So far, my struggle with perfectionism has been a slow process.  I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been chipping at this problem for a long while, and I would love for it to roll on out of my life RIGHT NOW. But so far it hasn’t.  

Truth seeps into my spirit, loosening the dirt.  Day by day, the rock shifts, often imperceptibly. It is not until I step back and see the big picture that I can truly appreciate the progress God has made over the years.  Slowly, steadily, He is dislodging this perfectionism lie from my life.

We all have big rocks in our heads, lies that have been ingrained in us for years. Some folks, like me,struggle with perfectionism.  Others have “boulders” of blame, or negativism, or materialism.  The process to extricate these lies can be arduous, because their tentacles wrap around many thought patterns.  All the more reason to keep at it, and to occasionally look back, and see how far we have come.

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  John 8:32

What rocks do you carry in your life?  What truths is God using to dislodge those rocks?

 

Big Decisions, No Regrets

bigdecisions

Big Decisions, No Regrets:  10 steps to make a thoughtful God-guided decision with confidence

 by Lydia Floren

Have you ever noticed that spring tends to be a time when people make big decisions? You may be graduating from high school, and figuring out where you should go to college, or maybe even if you should go to college at all. You may be pondering a job change, or a move to a new city, or wondering if you should get married, or start a family. You may be facing a decision about your health, or what house you should buy, when to retire, or even what relationships to invest in.

Decisions, especially big decisions, form the framework of our lives. These choices have major impact on each of us, and so it behooves us to make these decisions deliberately and prayerfully.

These proven steps will give you confidence in making a big decision.

Key steps in making a big decision

10 steps in making a big decision

This is an excerpt from the article Big Decisions, No Regrets.  To get the complete piece, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

NOMB Part III: Curbing the Impulse to Fix Myself

NOMB 3 curbingNOMB (None Of My Business) Part III: Curbing the Impulse to Fix Myself

by Lydia Floren

One time, when I was particularly aware of my failures and inadequacies (this happens a lot to perfectionists, BTW), I decided I would make a list of of each of my faults. It took awhile. It was quite a list. Finally I finished, and then wrote this prayer in my journal:

“OK, God, here are all the things that need changing in me. Where do you want me to start first?”

Here was His answer: “Why don’t you start with the perfectionist part?”

I was stunned. And then I laughed.

Perfectionism wasn’t even on my list. But once I thought about it, perfectionism, in a sense, WAS my list. The very act of writing down that string of deficiencies was my attempt to perfect myself, albeit with God’s blessing. But God had different ideas of what needed fixing. He knew I needed to change my tendency to perfect myself at all, and the audacity, in fact, to think that I could. Suddenly, I saw how prideful and foolish it was to attempt any self-improvement on my own.

I not only need God’s strength to carry out any change in myself, I need His wisdom about what really needs changing. His words, His wisdom, didn’t come from within me, it came from Him, and it is changing my life. Slowly. Recovering from perfectionism is a long process.

Not only are we unable to fix others’ problems, we are not even very good at fixing our own. We are quite blind to our blind spots. We don’t perceive the fixed false beliefs deep in our psyches that are obstacles to freedom and joy. And when God shows us one of those blind spots, only He can help us navigate the complicated path needed to free us from the lies and lead us into truth.

This is why Paul says, “I don’t even judge myself.” God is The Master Physician. He alone sees the big picture of my life, the unseen pain and distorted misinformation that unconsciously drives destructive thought and action. He alone knows the best way to blast me out.

God has serious skills.

Recent Series: NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer, NOMB Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others