Category Archives: Guidance

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

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Four Practical Steps to Overcoming Problems – Overcoming Series, Pt. III

by Lydia Floren

In the Overcoming blog series, we have been talking about—well—overcoming problems. In this process, it helps to:

  • Remember who Jesus is, and what God can do.
  • Accept the truth that problems are a part of life.
  • Jesus has overcome the world. He has conquered the ordered system of evil we live in.

But how do we apply this to our everyday lives?

4 practical steps

Four practical steps to overcoming problems:

1. Face your problem

  • Face the problem honestly. Don’t avoid it, blame someone else, or pretend it isn’t really a problem. In intense emotional reaction to a situation, especially if it seems out of proportion to the facts, may be a clue to you that you have an unidentified issue; examine it with courage.
  • Identify YOUR problem. Ask questions. For example, if you have a problem with a coworker, ask yourself, “What is happening? What is my reaction? What reasons might I be reacting this way? Am I making false assumptions? Generalizing? Why?” Asking questions helps you get to the real problem, which may be that this co-worker triggers something from your past and brings up old pain.
  • Don’t let problems become your identity; keep the problem the problem. For example, say “I experience anger in certain situations” not “I am an angry person.” And don’t generalize about someone else, as in, “They are a no-good-very-bad person because they make me angry.”
  • Be willing to change in your reaction to the problem. Problems are opportunities and avenues for change. Be flexible and teachable. Own your own emotions. Be willing to change.

2. Focus on God by giving thanks.
Giving thanks is a powerful way to return our attention to God, and put our problems in perspective. Give thanks for the following:

  • The situation, and that you are learning from it.
  • Who God is, and his faithfulness to you.
  • What God is showing you about the dilemma you are facing, and what His perspective might be.
  • What God offers you: strength, direction, His presence, and–most important–his promise to work everything to a good end.

3. Follow God’s Leading: ACT

  • ACT: Step forward in the direction you sense God is leading.
    If you really don’t know what to do, wait for clarity, if possible. If a decision is pressing, align your choice with previous ways He has led. Use your best judgment, after reviewing as much information as possible.
  • Sometimes you will misunderstand what He is telling you, and head off course. That’s OK. It happens a lot, actually. It is part of the process of learning to listen and follow. Think of it like this: it is much easier to steer a moving ship than one that is dead in the water. As you go, God will adjust your path and redirect you as needed.

4. Repeat

  • When you face difficulties, it is great to have a solid habit in place for dealing with challenges. Repetition creates habit. As you choose over and over to face, focus, and follow, you will build a pattern of strength and wisdom to address the next problem. Which, after all, is only two weeks away!

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Share with us! What practical tips do you use to overcome problems in your life?

Related posts: Learning to Fish, Our Problems Are Not The Problem

Learning to Fish on the Right Side of the Boat – Overcoming Series: Part I

boatPainting by Alexei Birvukoff

by Lydia Floren

There is a great story in the Bible where Jesus was at the shore of a huge lake, looking out over the water. He was watching a boat approaching:  His disciple Peter was returning home from a fruitless night of fishing.  Peter must have been discouraged.  Who wouldn’t be after working their tail off and seeing no results? As he stowed away his gear, he glanced up and noticed someone standing on the beach: Jesus.

“Hey Peter, throw your nets out on the other side of the boat”.  Jesus hollered out to him.

That’s nuts, Peter thinks.  He just doesn’t understand. We’ve been at this for hours and hours.

“I’ve been fishing all night,” Peter hollered back, “we haven’t caught a thing.

Silence. I can just hear Peter talking to himself:

OK, Peter, that was kind of stupid. Jesus knows everything.  I’m sure He is aware that it’s not been a good night of fishing. Yet still…he said to put my nets back down, this time on the other side of the boat. Maybe he knows something I don’t know about where the fish are. I’ve seen him do some pretty amazing stuff.  Like the whole feeding the 5000 thing. [sigh] If Jesus says to do this, it is probably worth a shot to haul up the nets and throw them out one more time, wherever He says to throw them. 

  “OK guys let’s do this,” Peter ordered.  “Grab the nets, and cast them on the far side of the boat.” 

His crew might have just stood there, incredulous.  They were as bone-weary as Peter was, and were savvy enough fishermen to know when to pack it in.  Maybe they muttered a few choice comments to each other, waiting for Peter to come to his senses.

Peter didn’t care.  He knew Jesus.  They didn’t.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” He shouted. “Get moving.”

The sailors suddenly scrambled into action. They gathered the nets, and then cast them once more, this time in a most unpromising place. Or was it?  Their skepticism shifted to awe as their nets immediately started filling with a catch so huge that they started to break.

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Peter just shook his head, bemused.  He’d seen Jesus do this kind of thing before.  Yet even with all Peter’s experiences–after having witnessed miracle after miracle–it was still so easy for Peter to forget who Jesus was, and what God could do.

2000 years later, nothing has changed.

It is so easy for us to forget who Jesus is, and what God can do.

In our lives today, it is so easy to forget who Jesus is, and what God can do.  We have seen God do amazing things in our lives–and the lives of others–yet when we face difficulties, we tend to focus on the problem instead of keeping our eyes fixed on The Solution.   We worry about what we see, instead of looking beyond to what God is doing.  When we fixate on the problem, we might get to work trying to find a solution on our own.  The busier we get “solving problems,” the more distracted we can become, and it gets harder and harder to remember what—and Who—is important.

In overcoming problems in our lives, we must stay focus on God, and do our best to follow His lead.

                Next week:  our problems are not the problem.

How do you stay focused on God when you have problems?

it is so easy-fish-rec

Recent posts: Circling Back, Sharing a Sunset, Enjoying God’s Presence.

Be Still and Know that I am God.

be-still-recby Lydia Floren

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

In the swirl and stress of the holidays, or just daily living, God often uses these 8 words restore my soul.

Be still and know that I am God.

The simple acts of being and knowing free us from the Twilight Zone of Anxiety, the Abyss of Never Enough:

Be still and know that I am God.

Be.

  • Just be.
  • Be aware of being alive. Appreciate that you have a beating heart, and air to breathe.
  • Settle into the truth that
    • You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
    • You are wanted. Treasured. Valued. Loved.
    • You are known and you are loved.

Be still.

  • Just stop. Rest. Take a breath. Or two. Be still.
  • Be still on the inside, as well as the outside.
  • Release all those thoughts swirling around in your head.
  • Take your mind off your responsibilities, your concerns, those things in your head that are nagging you.
  • Let go right now, and just be still.

 And know.

  • Let truth sink in.
  • Be aware of what is real, and what is not.
  • What is beyond seeing and understanding—and in the realm of just knowing.

Know that I

  • Know the Person who made you,
  • Who knows you better than you know yourself.
  • Who loves you with an everlasting love, which is in no way dependent on what you do or don’t do.
  • Who lives within you.
  • Who has your back.
  • Who has shown, and will show you how to live.
  • Who will never steer you wrong.
  • Who goes after you when you stray—deliberately or unintentionally–and brings you back to the path of life and joy.
  • Who restores your soul, leads you into the light and away from the darkness.
  • Who will never leave you or reject you.
  • Who keeps you safe—protects your identity, value, belonging and calling—for all eternity.

 Know that I am God.

Know that this person–your heavenly father, your friend, your one and only guide in life, your creator—is God.

He is God.

He is

  • 100% good.
  • The most powerful being in the universe.
  • Wise
  • Trustworthy
  • Present
  • compassionate
  • understanding
  • forgiving
  • uncondemning
  • full of life and joy
  • available
  • ready to show you a better way to live
  • Committed to walking with you on that way.

Be Still and Know that I AM GOD.  Psalm 46:10

How has this truth changed your life?  Please share with us!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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 will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

The Blessings of Giving Thanks

blessings of giving thanks titleby Lydia Floren

What one habit has most transformed your life?  For me the answer would be                           the practice of thanks-giving..  Here are a few of the blessings of giving thanks that I have experienced:

Attitude. I see even a little blessing in life as a bonus, not a right, when I appreciate that my life—and everything in it—is a gift from God.

Contentment.  I am free to enjoy each day–even if things are difficult–when I give thanks that God is working all things to good.

Trust.  It is easier to trust God’s direction, especially when the future seems uncertain, as I give thanks for God’s love and goodness.

Fearless following. I can boldly follow God’s lead–the best i know it–as I give thanks for God’s commitment to safely guide me. I know that He will make any mid-course corrections if I misunderstand or just wander away for awhile.

Self-concept. I am at peace with who I am when I give thanks for my life–the unique blend of attributes that makes me “me”.   It settles me.  I have nothing to prove. I am valuable, and valued by the most amazing being in the universe, the person that made me.

Encouragement.  I am en-couraged—given courage to be myself, when I appreciate my identity and value.   And I can then en-courage others.

Hope.  I have hope to see beyond a hardship when I am giving thanks in the middle of it.  I can also more readily see benefits of those challenging situations.

Perspective.  Giving thanks for eternity reframes my perspective, and reminds me  what is really important.

Focus. Giving thanks for others takes my focus off myself.

Tolerance.  When I give thanks for the unique gifts of others, I more inclined to celebrate differences, instead of being annoyed by them.  I can appreciate that each person’s individuality makes life rich, just like one spice combined with another creates a wonderful flavor.

Freedom.  Giving thanks for Christ’s sacrifice allows me to leave the past behind, and to quit beating myself for being “imperfect.”  God completes me. In Him I am perfect.

Calling.  There is nothing like the deep soul-satisfying joy of God working through me to love another person in my own unique way.  Giving thanks to God for calling me to be loved, and then to love–Him, myself, and those I encounter–brings me joy.

Presence of God.  Giving thanks in all things brings me into the very presence of God.

The practice of giving thanks in all things has changed–and continues to change–my life.

How has giving thanks blessed you?  We’d love to hear from you!

The Difficulty of Blessings

wheat photo

Blessings can be much harder to handle than hardship. When God blesses us, if we do not immediately and often acknowledge that it is Him at work, we can quickly come to believe Satan’s whispered lie:

“God had nothing to do with this. You did this yourself. You deserve this.”

We abandon God’s leading and return to our old way of thinking—God is not good, He does not care.  We reject our growing connection with Him—our focus on following Him– and resort to self-dependence:

“I must get and do what I think will make me happy, and will make me feel good about myself.” 

God loves to give good gifts to His precious children

So in good times as well as hard times, it is helpful to remember:

  • What we think will make us happy—pleasure, power and pride—only makes us more miserable, because the momentary rush from these things is replaced by long term emptiness and gnawing discontent.
  • When our life is spent trying to impress or please others–or ourselves–we are enslaved in the worst kind of way.
  • The only way to joy, contentment, peace, purpose, and long-lasting blessing is to follow the Father who loves you more than He loved His own son’s life, and to do so with an attitude of anticipation and trust.
  • That means accepting “no” and “not now” exactly in the same way we accept “yes”: with gratitude, knowing that God IS good, and DOES have your best in mind, and fervently wants you to overflow with joy and contentment and the passion of a high calling.
  • God loves, loves, loves to give good gifts to His precious children. And He knows what is truly good.

God loves you. He really does.

james 1 17 blessingsWhat do you do to remind yourself that God truly has your best interest at heart?

By Lydia Floren

 

The Kindness of God, by Lydia Floren

ocean pray photoromans 2 4When we don’t have prayers answered in the way we would like, particularly the ones that start with,  “Lord give me….”, it may be because God knows what we desire is not good for us. At least not right now.  Yet, when we don’t hear a “yes” we are tempted to believe God is holding out on us, instead of protecting us. Our stubborn hearts say, “Fine, you don’t want to give me this, so I will just get it for myself.”  And we strike out on our own.

Good Gifts

When we follow this pattern, we move away from our growing understanding of God’s goodness.  We forget that God DELIGHTS to give good gifts to His children. HE LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to give good gifts to His children.  He does not try to spoil our fun.  He tries to protect us, give us what we can handle, show us the way.  He wants MORE for us, not less.  He doesn’t want us to settle for the mediocre, when He is planning “fantastic” for just around the corner.  When we choose our way over God’s, we are choosing to settle for less than His best, less than wonderful.

the kindness of God leads us to repentance

God’s leading is thoughtful, and it is kind.

He wants us to avoid the dangers that lurk beneath the surface of superficial satisfaction.  He wants to keep us from trading true riches for false promises. But in order to receive the blessings He so much wants to give us, we must choose to follow His way, His timing, His wisdom. We must choose to say no to the enslavement of our impulses, and accept the growing freedom that comes from saying yes to His leading.

We must remember and believe that God is good.

Daily we need to turn back as quickly as possible, and remind ourselves again that every step God leads us to take, is one He has chosen because He loves us, and wants the very best for us. When we are off track, the kindest thing God can do for us is to lead us back to following Him.

Repentance is turning away from our own way of doing things, and turning back to reliance on God’s leading.  It is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance. 

john 1 52 cor 7 10

What thoughts do you have? Please leave them below!

Photo by honorbound

The Barnacles of Busy-ness

sunrise_beachBusy-ness is a persistent parasite, like barnacles on a sea shell.  Busy-ness attaches itself to my life through “extra” expectations and goals and plans.  If I allow these barnacles to grow and multiply, my priorities and my calling become almost unrecognizable.  I come to believe that these embellished plans are God’s will for me, and I convince myself that no one but I can accomplish these plans–not even God.  My time is consumed by either working on these altered plans, or worrying about them.  Gone is my willingness to begin each day in God’s presence, and to seek His guidance throughout my day.  There is no time.  I must hurry.  There is much to do.

Through Psalm 23 my Patient Father, My Shepherd calls me back to reality, to the truth deep within me.  He calls me to remember, rest, reflect, restore, and refocus:

ps 23 1REMEMBER:

The Lord gives me plenty–more than enough—of everything I need to do what He calls me to do.

  • plenty of time.
  • plenty of resources.
  • plenty of His love and acceptance and grace.

He has done this before, and He will do it again. And again.

 

ps 23 2REST: Being still—resting—allows me to…

  • absorb His presence, and
  • remember His provision, power, guidance, faithfulness and love.
  • be strengthened for the day ahead.
  • step back and see the big picture, instead of being caught up in meaningless minutia.

 

ps 23 2bREFLECT: His quiet waters allow me a safe place to…

  • see my reflection,
  • face my recurring tendency to wander, and
  • re-clarify truth, and recognize what barnacle-lies might be attached to that truth.

 

ps 23 3RESTORE: He refreshes my soul with…

  • His grace.
  • His love and acceptance.
  • His affirmation of my identity, value, belonging.
  • His calling for me
    • to be loved, and
    • to love,
    • and to let go of everything else.

 

ps 23 4REFOCUS: He guides me to…

  • freedom from the barnacles of busy-ness—those expectations of myself and others that attach themselves to my life, keeping me from seeing and following God’s true plan for me.
  • increasing understanding of truth, and the exposure of lies I have long believed to be truth.
  • new ways to love Him, myself, and others who cross my path.

Every day, in hard times and good ones, when I follow the Lord my Shepherd He guides me to Joy— the hallmark of an abundant life.

Do you ever feel like you have collected barnacles of busy-ness? How has God been leading you to joy, and freeing you of the barnacles of busy-ness? We would love to hear from you!

barnacles of busy-nessBy Lydia Floren