thankfulness brings breakthrough

Joe's

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live….” – Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life
Today I drove out to Leiper’s Fork, TN  to go to this adorable cafe,  Joe Naturals. Every time I drive out this way I’m reminded of the beauty of Tennessee that I often forget. Rolling hills, dreamy farm houses and beautiful horses. The leaf-less branches are lovely, even though I can’t wait to see life bloom from them. While I ate my healthy vegetarian fix (the  amazing veggie is just that…amazing) I thought about life revelations I’ve had. I collect them like picking flowers in a field: you reap what you sow, forgiveness brings life, live for others and then there’s one I’ve been mulling over these past few weeks: thankfulness brings breakthrough.
When I am thankful, focusing on what is instead of what isn’t, I am happier. Thankfulness only begets more thankfulness. This “life principal” of living daily saturated in thankfulness is more than being thankful for everything, covering it all with one big blanket labeled “thanks.” No, it’s deeper and richer than that. This rich, consuming, passionate thankfulness sees the small, seemingly insignificant gems that we so often brush past.
Once a speaker suggested we speak out what we are thankful for until we run out of words. You’d be surprised at how quickly this can happen. Give it two, maybe even three minutes. After you’ve thanked God for your spouse, your house, food, shelter, your children, your dog, transportation, community, essentially the basics, you start slowing down. At least, this is what happened to me.
But I pushed through—
finances…
your grace & love
the flowers in full bloom
the clouds at sunset….
(pause)
(think)
puppy cuddles
lazy sundays on fridays
kindness from strangers
the man who opened the door for me
my socks
toilets and toilet paper
the smell of new books
(weep)
Yep, I wept. I wept right after (out loud) I thanked God for toilet paper. It was breakthrough. You see, previous to this exercise I was frustrated, dare I say angry, at God. I can’t even remember what about, but something wasn’t going the way I thought it should and I was entitled to more. (Note to self: anytime you begin feeling entitled — time to take action — it’s a problem!). During the exercise I saw my selfishness, I saw my fear, my heart was exposed only to show the ugly places I harbored ingratitude. Here’s another truth: ingratitude, frustration, and overall discontentment– when dwelled upon == only begets more ingratitude, frustration and discontentment. And worse, it begins to birth bitterness which is an evil that will suck the life out of you quicker than anything. This I know to be true, proof: my nickname for a period of my life was “Bitter Betty.” The simple act of speaking out what I was thankful for, brought on a deep revelation that thankfulness brings breakthrough. That revelation, paired with intention, changed my life.
…..
What are you thankful for?
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sleepless nights and restless days

Ever since we let our little puppy, Míka, into our hearts and home we’ve come up against a challenge: house training. For some of you that brings up memories of pee on your favorite sweater, chewing up that expensive shoe or sentimental leather journal or the worst: the foul smell of puppy poo. To keep most of these things from happening and to train her well she stays in her kennel through the night. Then, every two and a half hours we take turns, groggy-eyed, taking her outside to do her puppy business. This severely messed up our sleeping patterns at first, but now we’ve kind of gotten used to it.

#worthit

#worthit

Normally after my shift I find it hard to fall back to sleep right away, so I’ll get on my smart phone and surf Pinterest or see what the latest photos are on Instagram until my eyes hurt so bad from the contrast of the dark room and back-lit screen I can’t help but shut them and fall back to sleep. Recently though, I decided I would fill my mind with more than recipes, DIY’s, and photos of other people’s food. I moved all my social media apps to the last page, and moved all the blogs of friends who were doing missions to my front page. Two nights ago I couldn’t fall asleep for the first time since I made this decision. And we’ll see how this worked out…

 
A friend of mine, Joanna Branson (who I mentioned in my last post), is on a six-month journey doing research on safe houses that provide rehabilitation to women rescued from sex-trafficking. She’s a spunky little five-foot-one, so-tiny-you-could-fit-her-in-your-pocket sort of girl with immense amounts of courage. Just catching up on her blog (which I said I would read but haven’t yet, sorry Joanna!) stoked embers in me that hadn’t been aflame since I left Kenya in 2011. It’s eerily easy to forget the injustice happening in the world–maybe not forget completely, that wouldn’t be possible, but forget the urgency. As I read her post in which she shared the rage she felt I too felt it. I felt the confusion of how God’s love covers both sides, I felt the helplessness she felt, but mostly I wanted to get up out of bed, pack my bags, wake up Tyler and say “we’re going!” Here’s a quote from that post:
 

“…I’m mad because a village here encourages their daughters to save their virginity in order to sell it to a foreigner. When they do, they go for $2000 USD and the village throws a celebration that honors the parents using the money. I’m disgusted that I’m mad at them more than I am the perverted foreigners….I’m really the most angry because there are internet blogs that rate the red light districts right next to me. They rate the women with explicit details and give creative ideas on how to trick them into lowering their prices. They gave maps with detailed instructions. I filtered through this and made a map of where all the trafficked women are, which street corner, which doorway, what times. From Russian to African to whatever you’re looking for. And the blog writers know they are trafficked. I’m so mad that I read those things and made that map because now I’m sitting up at night looking at the clock knowing exactly where the Russian girls stand and where the Russian embassy is and I’m still completely useless. I’m so mad at how easy it was to find out those things. I don’t know where to go from here.  I talk to God and I am awestruck at how faithful His love is. He loves the women, their parents, the men, the ladyboys, the men who beat up the ladyboys, and He moves and He rescues and He recklessly pursues all of them.  But right now all I can feel is boiling furious rage. I don’t want to go home yet, but I would right now- I want to go to a place where I can speak the language and scream and tell people where this is happening and what time they should go pick these women and men up and help them get home. But even then, would that change anything?…”

 
Alas, I didn’t buy plane tickets, I didn’t pack our bags, and I didn’t wake up Tyler. I fell back asleep only to wake up, make breakfast, snuggle with my man and enjoy our morning. I don’t think this is wrong, but it scares me how easily I put what I had felt so passionately at the back of my mind. It didn’t stay there long though, because later in the day I began to feel this restlessness rise up in me. I couldn’t shake it. The problem was I wanted a fun day. I wanted to be cute and married and silly, getting coffee at Fido’s, doing our grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, and I was mostly excited to get some Mast Brother’s chocolate from Barista Parlor (nom nom nom nom). Still, I couldn’t shake this heaviness, this weight. 
 
Please don’t misread my heart, these are things I am super passionate about, I think I just find myself internally conflicted. Like I said to Tyler– “On the same device I can read about the horrors of sex trafficking and also find a DIY craft for that chair I never sit in.” Which is not bad. I started to feel even more restless, I couldn’t enjoy our day. Instead of trying to push and root for the carefree day I had expected, I yielded to the emotions and passion welling up in me. I outwardly processed with Tyler what I was feeling inside and then we prayed. We prayed for about a half and hour blessing those on the front lines, calling down favor, and mostly asking how to pray. The weight lifted, and our day was still a blast, and wasn’t “ruined” by the seriousness but it brought fulfillment to recognize. So until I feel the freedom to pack our bags, buy a plane ticket and go to the front lines. I will pray fervently. I will help bring information to the uninformed and I will stay informed. 
 
God is so good and so gracious and He wants us to enjoy the blessing we have. There is a way to bring them together. Social media, our blessings of clean water and food shouldn’t make us feel shame, but thankfulness. There’s a balance, as with everything in the Kingdom of Heaven. A “fun” day can include a DIY for that chair I never sit in AND praying for that girl being sold into sex slavery–all in the same day. 
 
Ignorance is not bliss.

 

Rhythm

“There is a rhythm, a movement back and forth in the way He created the world and its systems. The ocean swells and undulates, we inhale and exhale. An infant requires rhythm of attention (stimulation) and rest. Our spiritual lives are much the same. We as individuals and communities must move in rhythms of inward experience (winter, fall) to outward expression (spring, summer)——from intimacy to changing the world around us, or from hidden to known. Lately the change undergoing Grace Center and church bodies elsewhere seems to be this transition from inward focus on healing & intimacy to outward —- outreach & empowerment. In order to sustain this move we must keep the healing while moving. I feel God speaking that the transition we (Felicia & I) are undergoing is of the same kind.” -Tyler wrote this just before we left for Iceland and it left such and impression and I’ve been pondering over it throughout this trip to Iceland. I think that’s what Papa showed us both through refreshment, rest and releasing—-that it’s a new season of “exhaling” for us. Beautiful.

Father Heart Sharing

 

daniellexrenee:

Team Canada day 7: @feliciaplease sharing the Father heart message with the healing room volunteers! #soslcanada (Taken with instagram)

Just me and you daddy…

I find it so hard to start a blog post, entering into what’s on my heart. I blank. Looking back I always seem to begin with “its been a long week, so much has happened,” because so much has; but then I get overwhelmed because I want to write about it all! So much revelation! And God is just moving daily on my heart–I’m so thankful!
So I’m done with trying to write about everything and just share what I feel the Lord wants me to share that would encourage someone who is reading :) Yay. No pressure..
I’ve been journaling a lot lately, which isn’t new; I fill up journals almost every other month. But I used to journal with God, kind of writing out my prayers to him, in that sharing my day and documenting life around me. Somewhere within the last month though, my journaling has turned into a bit of a one-way conversation. I’d say what I needed to pray or share with God and then I’d be done. I wouldn’t wait for his response to my rambling. It’s funny how being in a school and listening to teaching that feels “basic” reminds you of how far you strayed from the basics.
From the teaching of Mark Verkler, Alyn taught us how to hear God’s voice. Which seems simple enough, right? I feel like I hear God’s voice throughout my day and when I spend time with him, but its amazing how much more he has to say if we just listen. We went over four keys (based from Habakkuk 2v:1-2) —we even had hand motions to them! Ha.
1. Quiet yourself in the Lords presence. Learn how to be still and rest.
2. Look for vision as you pray & focus your eyes on Jesus. Habakkuk said, “I will keep watch to see,” and God said, “Record the vision.” Habakkuk was actually looking for vision as he prayed. He opened the eyes of his heart, and looked into the spirit world to see what God wanted to show him.
3. Tune to spontaneity. Often God’s voice is like a spontaneous flow of thoughts.
4. Write it down. Write down the spontaneous thoughts and visions that the Lord gives to you.
So this is what I’ve been doing. I’ve been journaling with God again, listening for what he has to say to me. Alyn says “I hear God as often as I choose to listen.” Which is really profound. It is rather amazing how much Papa wants to say to us when we quiet ourselves down enough to listen. Pages and pages, I’ve been writing. A lot of it is just Papa telling me how much he loves and adores me. It’s rather refreshing and encouraging.


Having being reminded to journal with God instead of to him was very helpful with the topic this week on the Father Heart. As always, every time, God has something new to show me, another layer to go deeper into understanding his big papa bear heart. He desires to simply hold us, hug us, He can’t wait to spend time with us, and lavish good things over us; blessings upon blessings. This is what I’ve been feeling him speaking over me…

“Yes, come for rest. But stay for rest, too. Stop all feverish haste and be calm and untroubled. Come unto Me, not only for petitions to be granted but for nearness to Me. Be sure of My Help, be conscious of My Presence, and wait until My Rest fills your soul. Rest knows no fear. Rest knows no want. Rest is strong, sure. The rest of soft glades and peacefully flowing rivers, of strong, immovable hills. Rest, and all you need to gain this rest is to come to Me. So come.” –God Calling, Sep 23

I’ve felt him asking me to give up to-do lists and planning for a short time or just coming to him first and not adding him to a checklist of things to do. In that I have a tendency to start to control my life instead of resting and trusting him. It’s been a great realization and was even confirmed by Alyn’s message at Emanate on Monday. This is what the Lord has been saying to him…

“So much of what you want to achieve I will just give you if you will trade doing for resting. If you will sow me your busyness, you will reap my fruitfulness.”
Yes. And Amen.

I encourage you, rest, spend some time with Papa, sit in his lap and be loved. It’s well worth your time.

Cause & Effect: A testimony to Kingdom Principles.

Last summer before I left for Iceland I was a little troubled as to what to do with my car. I thought about selling it and using the money for my YWAM trip to Iceland, but then I felt like God was impressing on me to give it away. “Give my car away?!” was my first reaction. That seemed a bit radical and extreme. So I told God to open my eyes to someone who needed a car as sort of my fleece before the Lord. Sure enough not shortly after (I think it was even in the same week) a friend’s mom informed me that her daughter needed a car—there it was…and then came the second hesitation, wondering whether I had really heard God or if it was all a coincidence. Yeah right. So the night before I left I gave her my car…..keep this in mind and keep reading…

This week/weekend has been a hard one. Starting with this past weekend in Virginia Beach. Aside from all the fun at the beach and spending time with good friends it had a bit of challenges strung within. Funny because on my birthday (the day we left) I was spending time with Papa and asking him about what this next year was going to hold. I felt like he was telling me that it was going to hold a lot of challenges in unexpected areas—areas where I thought I was smooth sailing. During this weekend I struggled with the way others were wired—that being different than my own. You see, I’m a bit of a left-brainer. I make lots of plans, lists, I try extremely hard to never be late and I am also pretty directionally gifted. I can be free-spirited and laid back when needed but normally within the structure of a plan; which I know is a bit contradictory. The people I was with this weekend (and have been with constantly in my trips to Iceland & Kenya) are by default more on the free-spirited side of things. So it sent my left-brain into overdrive. I couldn’t sleep when someone was driving for fear they would get us lost, I felt I needed to make plans for the day or nothing would happen, and I essentially spent a lot of time judging them for their lack (what I thought was lack) of organization. I wasn’t having a grace for the way they were wired and essentially I was being a bit selfish in my thinking. Just because they’re not wired the same way I am does not make them wrong. God showed me some ungodly beliefs attached to that: 1. “I can’t trust others to do what they say they will so I must plan for their failure ahead of time and do it myself.” Not true (obviously that’s why its a UGB).

We returned to Nashville late Monday evening and Tuesday morning I had to wake up pretty early to Nanny. I plugged in my phone and set 2 alarms on it to make sure I’d wake up. I woke up, looked at my phone and it was dead…it hadn’t charged all night. Panicked, I ran to the kitchen and sure enough it was 30 minutes after I was supposed to be at work. I rushed around and drove a little speedily to their house, unable to call them because my phone was dead and I didn’t have their number or a phone to use if I did (this is where landlines come in handy). By the time I got there she had already called in a sub for her class (she’s a teacher) and I know they were both pretty frustrated. “My phone died” is not a very good reason to be that late. Both of them did a very good job at displaying the fathers grace, although frustrated they encouraged me not to be too hard on myself and remember we all make mistakes. Along with some good pointers to be prepared—-like having an alarm clock in addition to my phone. :)

I tell that story for the direct connection between my judgments about seemingly lack of organization all weekend and then my “failure” the next day. I reaped the judgments I had sown almost immediately. I learned though. Not only to be more prepared, but also a reminder that you really do reap what you sow.

Reaping what you sow has great benefits though. Remember the car I gave away? Well the girl I gave it to moved back to Israel and so she returned it to me (which was quite helpful) not long after I got back from Iceland. In addition Tyler was just given a car to use as long as he needs. He reaped blessing from what I had sown. How cool is that?

Sorry I’m jumping all over the place with my stories…but all of these are connected to the overall epiphany of cause & effect this week.

Today I was talking with the Father of the child I nanny for and he was telling me how he was reading Psalm 107 (probably my favorite Psalm) that morning and what he noticed was how often it says “Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!”—4 times to be exact. Lets break it down..

21Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!
22And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing!
23Some go down to the sea and travel over it in ships to do business in great waters;
24These see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.
25For He commands and raises up the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26[Those aboard] mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the deeps; their courage melts away because of their plight.
27They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wits’ end [all their wisdom has come to nothing].
28Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.
29He hushes the storm to a calm and to a gentle whisper, so that the waves of the sea are still.
30Then the men are glad because of the calm, and He brings them to their desired haven.
31Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!

Do you see the cause and effect there? The men waited until all their strength and wisdom ran out to call on the Lord and of course being the good daddy he is, he rescues them. Then they rejoiced and gave praise, Then the Lord guided them to the harbor they longed for. I believe the Lord would still have guided them to the harbor had they not thanked him, but I’m not sure that their eyes would’ve been open to it. They might still be complaining about something or other. But with their thankful heart they were guided to the harbor their hearts cried out for. It’s beautiful really, how our praise and thanksgiving opens way to fresh and joyful perspective. I know from my own experience thankfulness and praise open way for joy. While focusing on what you think God hasn’t done yet only leads to frustration.

Moral of the story: you reap what you sow. What you do, how you think (or judge), & your attitude of praise can make way for not-so-fun lessons to learn or incredible joy & blessing!

Do you have any awesome testimonies about reaping & sowing? Share ’em in the comments below!