Less is More

We are approaching the end of another year.  Time is flying by.  Like many others, I tend to feel very nostalgic and introspective at this time of the year.  Perhaps, because it is the Advent season where we celebrate the arrival of the Christ child, while also practicing His presence each day. Christmas, 2015

Today, as I reflect, I am reminded of a significant word that the LORD gave me at the beginning of this Advent season.  I am not much for focusing on one word, but it looks like this year is different.  What is the word you ask?  Downsizing.

What a strange word to be pondering during Advent.  And yet, not that strange at all.  Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus as a baby in a manger and then to celebrate His birth on Christmas Day.

Plain and simple…right?

Unfortunately, we tend to do the opposite.  We make it complicated.  We fill our houses, calendars, fridges, credit cards, minds, and stomachs with all the treats and trimmings of the season and allow ourselves to indulge, with excuses that end in “Tis the season!”.

I am not trying to be a scrooge.  I like Christmas, just not in the way most people in my life do.

For the past 2 years, I have seen a trend in my heart.  The dislike for what I call, “Christmas clutter.”  Because of some personal circumstances, our family has taken a break from decorations, shopping, gift giving and many other common festivities that happen during this time of the year, here in America.

Sounds dreary and scrooge-like to many of you, I am sure.  But we have found a Joy unspeakable and a Peace that passes all understanding as a result.

Isn’t that the real reason for the season?  Joy and Peace?

I am now being called to downsize to make even more room for Jesus in my story.  Just like when Mary & Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn for them.  I don’t want my story to go like that.

The more I get the more I want…of Him.

I asked God where He wanted me to downsize, since His view of my story is better than mine.

He gave me this… “boundaries in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6), so I could gain clarity about how and where He wants me to downsize.

Physically – house size, clothes, body size, possessions.

We are not changing our address anytime soon (unless God decides otherwise).  I clearly have too many clothes than I know what to do with.  Although we have had garage sales for various reasons over the past few years, I am sensing that God is asking us to sell even more of the items we own.  Perhaps He already knows something we don’t.

Emotionally – deal with all my feelings (good, bad, otherwise), put boundaries in place that guard and protect, remove certain people from my life that cause undue emotional stress (toxic people), implement healthy social media boundaries.

This past year has been full of feelings new and old, shallow, and deep.  God has been faithful in leading and guiding every step of the way.  In some cases, it was easy in this area. But in other ways, it was quite challenging.  I want to continue to pursue emotional health not only because it is a special gift that I give to the people in my life, but it also strengthens my witness.  I learned a phrase last year, “one cannot be spiritually mature while being emotionally unhealthy at the same time.”  This statement has impacted me deeply and helped me downsize effectively.

Mentally – evaluate what I am feeding my brain, determine how I am strengthening my brain to function the way it is supposed to, identify lies I am believing and replace them with the truth.

God’s Word has been the most effective tool that does the above for me.  Just being in the Word isn’t enough, I have to let it do its work in me.

Spiritually – tighten down on my theology, step into the Gospel more intentionally, seek the presence of God in the deepest parts of my story so I have more of Him and less of me, push away teachings and practices that don’t line up with God’s Word.

If I don’t have a good handle on the Gospel, then my life will show it.  In 2015, I survived an earthquake that resulted in a deeper pursuit of Jesus and the determination to live like I want to die.  With integrity and deep resolve.

In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Jesus’ birth. In the meantime, I will continue to downsize by dying to myself so there is more room for Jesus when He arrives.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!

REFLECTION:

How about you?

Is God calling you do downsize?  If so, where?

How will you respond to His invitation this advent season?

Is there room in your story for Him or will you turn Him away?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Kinita

Rough Waters

Dozens of cookies we made last year out of inspiration and time!!

Dozens of cookies we made last year out of inspiration and time!!

Cookies, cookies and more cookies....last year!!

Cookies, cookies and more cookies….last year!!

2 Samuel 22:5-7 says,

“The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears.”

I have been wading through some rough waters lately – waters of parenting teenagers, doing my part to help our daughter deal with adoption pain, rough waters of communication struggles in our marriage, loneliness in leadership, and the racial tension we are facing in this country just to name a few.

Sometimes I feel that if I don’t stay engaged with the above mentioned situations, then I will be taken over by them. I know, I know, sometimes that only makes things worse. However, at times I felt like I was drowning. Have you ever felt like that?

I debated about giving this blog post the title, “It Takes A Village”, to quote a famous politician from several years ago. Her message really was “it takes a village to raise a child”. She is right. It does take a village to raise a child. However, my world is bigger than that of parenting and I imagine yours is as well. Learning to navigate rough waters in every aspect of life is normal. From work to relationships to health and illness. I believe anything that has the potential to be impacted by the world, the flesh, or the devil is a great place to foster rough waters. As I go up and down with every swell of waves, I’m tired. No, I’m exhausted. I need someone to throw me a life ring. I just want to close my eyes and sleep.

And then it happens…….

I am reminded in Jonah 1:4, “But the LORD sent a strong wind on the sea, and the storm was so violent that the ship was in danger of breaking up”. I know God allows these things in my life and as I feel like I am in danger of breaking up / aka: crashing, I know the Truth that God is holding me right now. “Nothing touches my life without going through His fingers first”.

In Job 37:1, I am told, “The storm makes my heart beat wildly”, almost making me want to throw up. BUT GOD calms my spirit with His.

When Psalm 48:7 says, “…like ships tossing in a furious storm”, I am sensing dread but am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind”. These rough waters are crazy!!!! Back-and-forth-back-and-forth, I feel tossed.

Because God is a keeper of promises, I choose to trust that He will do what He says He will do in Psalm 107:29, “He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet”….and I can trust Him because He has done this for me before and will do so again. At other times He has calmed my inner spirit so as to strengthen me for a particular storm in my life.

Oh, how I craved the quiet waters and the peaceful sunset.

Oh, how I craved the quiet waters and the peaceful sunset.

Proverbs 10:25 also says, “Storms come, and the wicked are blown away, but honest people are always safe”. I can be safe. I am safe. Are you?

We are in the throws of the Christmas Season right now. Just a couple of days away in fact. As much as I have enjoyed the hustle and bustle, to some extent, I have found myself often close to tears, physically tired, and sometimes even clenching my teeth.

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So I let the tears flow and I cry out to Jesus. He hears me. He reminds me of His love, peace and presence and that He is sending His Son as a baby in a manger as a greater reminder of things to come. God is my Rescuer. My disappointments and struggle lead me to believe that I only need a village. Yes, I do need others. But first I need Jesus to strengthen, heal and help me surrender the pain some situations and some people are causing along the way.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the storm will go away, but for me it means He will give me His peace and His joy. The rough waters need to run their course, as the LORD shapes me to look more like Him. In the meantime…..I hang on for dear life and perhaps look around for what village He is calling me to be part of.

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I want to close with this truth from 2 Samuel 22: 17 – 20.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

My comfort in these weeks has come from saying,

“I CHOOSE joy. I CHOOSE peace. I CHOOSE Jesus!!”

He is seeing me through my storm and He wants to do the same for you.

Will you trust Him for that Peace and Joy you crave deep in your spirit?

Whether you are in the swells of the rough waters or diving into the depths of the struggles. My prayer is that you will finish out this year well and know and believe that you have a Rescuer Who hears you.

Christmas blessings to you and yours,

Kinita