Abundance

The theme of abundance continues to circle around to me.  I love it when that happens, and often it shines the light on something I need and want to work on.  It’s like God is shining that heavenly flashlight and tapping on His teacher’s desk ever so gently, to get my attention.  I love how he brings things at just the right time when we’re ready and willing to listen.  And, sometimes He’s graceful enough to bring us back again when we’re ready for the next, deeper level of that lesson or we don’t get it the first time.

It’s this Abundance thing.  When you look up the definition you also get the word ‘abound’, and if you take off the pre-fix of ‘a’ then you have the word ‘bound’.  To be bound is to limit.  I do not want to live my live bound by fear or scarcity.  But the truth is that I live much of my life bound.  Ouch.  Yes, it’s true.  I live bound by fear of what others think.  Bound by waiting for permission.  Bound by my own choices, which I can change.  Bound by wanting to please everyone and make them ‘o.k.’, which is not my job.  Bound by the lies and stories I tell myself. Bound up by the thought of “it’s not the right time.” Bound by the tape that says “what I have to say doesn’t matter”, that I “don’t or can’t speak up or be heard”.  That’s crap.  Am I going to bind myself up with these things? I do not want to live bound!

When you and the prefix ‘a’, it means without or not.  So in my understanding when you add the ‘a’ to are without binding.  Abound is without binding or without limits.  The definition in Webster’s looks like this :: To have or possess in great quantity; to be copiously supplied; followed by with or in; as to abound with provisions; to abound in good things.  So, we are without limits when we abound!  Do you abound in Jesus?

When you are ‘bound by secrecy’, there are limits as to what you can or can not say.  When ‘communication abounds’, then there is freedom and connection.  We can be open to all the copious amounts of connection.

When we abound in Christ, we are un-bound in Him.  He’s already paid the price.  Then why do we live in scarcity or things that bind us up?

It’s different for each one of us.  I want to challenge myself, and you, to live life unbound.

Abundance.  We think of the definition something like this :: a large amount of something; an abundant amount of something.  We think of abundance as this overflowing source of a particular thing.  

Don’t get me wrong, l love abundance.  But perhaps the definition I’ve been accepting as truth isn’t’ quite 100% accurate.  Perhaps it leads me to a thinking of scarcity, in a subconscious way.  If I do not have an abundance of money, than I must have a limited amount of money.  Oh, dear.  I’ve  just bound myself, and mostly in my thinking.  This doesn’t mean that I’m going to start living in such a way that is irresponsible.  But it starts a thought base from scarcity.

I was recently told about, and then read, a line from Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong.  She says, “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance; the opposite of scarcity is simply enough.”  I love this!  Because each and every day, I have simply enough.  In fact, I have more than enough!  And, I serve a God that is so generous and loving.  He wants the best for his children.  Why would He withhold something good for us, just to withhold it?  He gives generously! He gives us our daily bread, that is simply enough for today, and He gives ever so faithfully.

Abundance.  Something else about this word I see, it’s a bit of a stretch.  But it’s the word dance.  I love to dance.  It’s fun!  That saying about “singing my song”, like living your purpose.  I like to sing, but not the best singer.  But dancing, that’s something I can get down with.  We’ll, my word picture is that I want to dance my dance.  I want to hear that music and live it.  

photo-1Abundance.  Un-bound and dancing.  That’s how I want to live.  Lord, give me the strength to keep digging and learning, and live it out.  It won’t be perfect.  But I hear the music!  There will be mis-steps and I’ll trip and probably do some silly moves, but I want to move.  Not stand on the sides of the dance floor like a wall-flower.  Without limits, moving freely and unhindered, un-bound.  My Heavenly Father has so much to provide.  It’s not always wrapped up in a pretty package the way we think it should be, but it’s glorious abundance if we are willing to accept it and walk in it.  Or, Dance!
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.  By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.”  James 1:17-18

Oh, firstfruits.  Yes!  But that’s another post.  For now, I want to dance in Jesus’ simply enoughness.

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Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh

Joshua 1:12 has my wheels turning and seeking clarity and understanding.  There is a group of people that seem to be singled out throughout Joshua and other portions of scripture, it’s the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.  What’s different about this portion of the Israel?  Why are they being singled out?  What makes them different? 

I did a search of where this portion of the tribe of Israel was mentioned together, and was lead back to Numbers 32.  It’s a long, interesting story!  I would highly recommend sitting down with your favorite beverage to dig in. 

So I think (please correct me if I missed this), the people were living in the land of Shittim, next to the land of Moab.  The Israelites had defeated the Midianites (not sure where that is in relation to Shittim) in Numbers 31.  And in Numbers 32, it states that the the tribes of Reuben and Gad had seen the land of Jazer and Gilead.  So I wonder if during the journey of this battle they saw the land and thought it desirable.  The tribes of Reuben and Gad had a great number of livestock, so they would need a lush place with plenty of area for their flocks to graze.  They saw the lands of Jazer and Gilead and asked that these lands be their inheritance, they asked to not be taken across the Jordan. 

Moses seems like he may have gotten a little upset with this request, not wanting Reuben and Gad to dishearten the rest of the tribes.  “Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over in the land that the LORD has giving them?” (Num. 32:7) And then Moses reminds them about when spies were sent out into Canaan (Num. 12) and they came back saying “they are stronger than we are.”  The people of Israel got very disheartened, and Moses having learned from that didn’t want it to happen again.  To me, it sounds like a little bartering and remembering goes on between Reuben, Gad and Moses and the end product sounds something like this …

(my words) Rueben & Gad :: “Look, if you let us build pens for our animals and settle down here then we’ll go over and fight for you.  We won’t rest until all of our brothers have their inheritance too. But we want this portion.” 

(my words) Moses :: “Fine, you can do that.  But if you don’t, you will have sinned against the Lord and that trouble is on you.”

So Moses said, after all the Israelites have their inheritance across the Jordan the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh would have the kingdom of Sihon and the kingdom of Og, the land with all it’s cities and territories throughout the country.  This is land to the east of the Jordan river, towards the sunrise. 

Up to this point it’s just been the Reubenites and the Gadites mentioned, I’m not exactly sure where the half-tribe of Manasseh got thrown in the mix.  Perhaps they got wind of what was going on and wanted in on the deal?  Perhaps Moses knew their hearts?  Perhaps Moses was listening, God’s plan was just being enacted and wanted them to have this land too?  I don’t know. 

What I do know is that they (especially the tribes of Reuben & Gad) spoke up for what they wanted.  I do know that as the story goes, they fought across the Jordan and kept their agreement.  I do know that in Joshua 1:12-18 they are reminded by Joshua (Moses’ successor) of their agreement and acknowledged they will fight.  Then, it’s states “Only be strong and courageous.” What a good insert for that reminder! 

There is so much power in asking for what we want and keeping our agreements.  

As Joshua addresses the tribes of Israel in Joshua 1, they were already living in their land of inheritance!   Notice in Joshua 1:10-11 Joshua is speaking to the people as a whole, but down in verses 12-18 Joshua is speaking to just these three groups of people.  The “men of valor” would have to leave their families to cross the Jordan and fight for their brothers.  

I still have so many questions!  Why these tribes?  What is the significance here?  Maybe it’s just because they had a very great number of livestock (Num. 32:1).  Whatever it is, I’m curious.

Are you willing to have what you want?

When I was a young girl, and then a young woman, I was asked a question that continues to impact my life.  Are you willing to have what you want?

For me, it’s been a reality check question.  Am I ready to do the work to have what I want?  Those desires placed within me.  Am I willing to do the work it takes to have what I want?  IMG_2283Am I willing to walk the path I think God has laid out before me or the path that looks a lot
easier?  Am I willing to do the work to have a healthy marriage?  Am I willing to do the work it takes to raise kind, loving, responsible kiddos?  Am I willing to do the work it takes to have a berry farm?  Am I willing to plant and care for a garden?  Am I willing to spend the time it takes to build deep and meaningful relationships with my girl friends?  The list could go on and on.

This question appeared in my thoughts yesterday as I was thinking about Joshua commanding the people of Israel to prepare their provisions to “go in to take possession” (Joshua 1:11) of their Promised Land. Were they willing to have what they wanted, their Promised Land?  Am I willing to go in, and do the work, to take possession of my Promised Land?  It’s a good question!

Sometimes with prayer and more thought, the answer is ‘no’!  Perhaps that is a sign to go a different direction.  Sometimes when the answer is ‘yes’, its with the knowing there s a lot of hard work ahead.  But I want the bounties, joy, connection and the fruit that is associated.  I am willing to have what I want.

One thing I’ve experienced, the harder the work is, the richer the reward.  Are you ready to do the work?  Are you willing to have what you want?

 

Take Possession

Joshua 1:11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’’

I believe we each have our Promised Land, and I’m not speaking about heaven.  I think of this as the area in which God has prepared and called us to, our purpose.  The place where we dwell in and use the gifts given to us to edify others and the world around us.  There is an energy that flows easily, although not always easy, and creates beauty.  It’s our area!  To me, this is living in our Promised Land. 

Living in our Promised Land isn’t just going to happen.  Perhaps, but not likely without action on our part.  Raising kids, we want them to understand the value of hard work.  If I gave my son everything he wanted without requiring his participation, I would not be doing a good job as his mother.  How would he learn to care for himself?  Most importantly, it could lead to a feeling of entitlement and there would be no ownership or partnership with others.  It means so much more when we have put something of ourselves into what we want.  We treasure it and care for the things we have worked for.  We’re going to have to put some effort in.  There will be uncomfortable battles, questions, challenges and obstacles all requiring us to step out!

Those phrases “to go in to take possession” and “God is giving you to possess” require present life action on our part.  We aren’t always just given something to possess.  God told them to go in and take possession!  The Promised Land is waiting and prepared, we must take a step of action and receive that which God is giving us to possess.   

IMG_1489.JPGWhat small step can you take, even if you don’t know the exact path?  What little step of action, or giant leap, can you take right now?  Is it a prayer, phone call, talking it out with a friend?  Claim it!  Do it!  And don’t get distracted!  It’s o.k. if it turns out that you need to switch direction, because “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Becoming Obedient (part 2)

Continuing from Becoming Obedient (part 1), I wanted to split it up as to not bore or draw it out too long.  Even time to think about how you listen!

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8

There is something called active listening, it’s taught in some communication circles.  But here’s a few ideas of how we can listen to God based on the idea of active listening, or at least ways I try to listen for the Lord.  This is by no means a complete list, but perhaps a starting point.  I’m just going to touch on three points, because I think it’s applicable to our relationship with God as well as others.  The first is to remove distractions.  By removing distractions we’ll be able to hear more clearly and pick up on the sometimes quiet voice of our Creator.  Sometimes when praying I just sit quietly with a blank mind, not asking or talking about anything. 

We can choose who and what we listen to.  What we listen to (what goes in) will be shown in our actions (what comes out).  Listening to music is a good example for me.  Now, I tend to listen to Christian music for the most part.  A couple years ago as I was listening to the radio in the car, some of the songs I enjoyed listening to and signing along with were not exactly appropriate for little ones.  What they thought was simply calling someone on a cell phone actually had more to do with a late night phone call for sex.  They didn’t understand, but I did.  And the “information” they were listening to didn’t line up with the values I wanted to teach them and live by.  So we changed what we were listening to, removed a distraction.

Being in the Word, reading my bible is also a good way for me to focus and shut out distractions.  And, not just reading but attempting  to put what is read and understood into action.  If I don’t understand I can ask God for clarity, talk to others I trust, or seek more information on my own.  I get curious.  And then be open to allowing those words of truth to change my life.  James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.”  I don’t want to just hear what Jesus taught, but do what Jesus taught.

The second point is listening to the speakers signs and sounds.  When we’re face to face with someone, this is much easier to do and pick up on little nuances.  However, as I have come to know the Lord more, I can hear His voice a little easier and know where to look and what to listen for.  He speaks in the voice of my husband, friends, parents, in nature, sermons at church, and “coincidences” throughout the day.  There are little clues all over the place if I start looking, kind of like crumb trails in the story of Hansel and Gretel.

The third point is giving feedback with what you have understood, for me this is very different when I’m listening to God versus when I’m listening to a person I’m communicating with.  Sometimes, I’m so not clear on what I am understanding and need to ask for more information or confirmation on what I think I’ve heard from the Lord.  “Father, I think you are calling me to do ___.  If that’s correct, I would really love for you to confirm that so I don’t miss step.”  Or “Lord, I think are are calling me to ____.  I’m going to step out and ____, please close that door or make it clear that we’re going in the right direction.”  It’s a little different when your face to face with someone, but I feel this is a way I can give and get some feedback from my Creator.

Deut527

I don’t know about you, but I want to know the voice of my Creator.  To know His voice, I must listen and pay attention.  There is peace and patience when I’m still enough to listen.  If listening is an important part of becoming obedient I want, and will, stop to listen.

Becoming Obedient (part 1)

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:8-11

Becoming obedient.  Sounds like a process to me, and I hear the Lord’s grace and mercy.  It’s not that I am obedient, but I am becoming obedient.  I want to be obedient because I love the Lord.  As my love for Jesus grows, I become more and more obedient.  So what exactly does obedient mean? 

I think perhaps we loose sight of the true base of obedience, and instead see the present day definition of obedience which is complying or willing to comply with orders or requests; submissive to another’s will.  I go to a place and automatically think that you either obey or you do not obey, and there is someone around to enforce it or at least dictate what you are supposed to do.

I think we get caught up in the action of the command, for example “I always obey my father,” that we forget the origins of this word.  The Greek word in Philippians 2:8 is hupékoos (G5255) which is attentively listening, (by implication) submissive.  It is derived from two words ‘hoop’ (G5259) which means under and ‘akouo’ (G191) which is a primary verb and means to hear, understand.  To me this makes sense because “under” represents the submissive portion and “to hear” is the attentively listening portion.

‘Obey’ is similar in latin with its origins; ‘ob’ is in the direction of, and ‘audire’ is hear. 

All this time, I’ve thought of the words obey or obedience to have action behind it, from following directions.  However, in the action of following directions I forget the first action is actually listening. To obey is to listen, it’s the first step of obedience.  Listening. Oh, that’s hard sometimes.  When every cell in my body wants to know what’s next, I take action into my own hands and forget to listen.  If I don’t listen, I can not be obedient.

“But I don’t want to listen!” my upset child says while arms flail.  They hear, but it’s not followed by the action of what they’ve heard, obedience.  The submissive listening, understanding.  Lowering themselves, humbling themselves, to do what’s been asked is hard sometimes.  We can choose to humble ourselves and be obedient.  Choosing to take everything and everyone, including ourselves, off of the pedestal.   

In Acts 22:8-10, Saul (Paul) asks two questions.  “Who are you, Lord?” and “What shall I do, Lord?”  If we ask God these questions, we should be willing to listen for the answers if we want to obey.  If I want to be obedient I must first ask the question and listen, so I know what to do.  My 9 year old son has had a habit his entire life of asking a question and not listening for the answer.  It’s frustrating as a parent!  We will answer his question only to be tuned out immediately and have it asked 30 seconds later, multiple times in a row.  He gets frustrated because he thinks we don’t answer him, and we get frustrated because he doesn’t listen.  It’s insanity!  I wonder if our Creator experiences a similar situation with us sometimes.

I can show my love for the Lord by being obedient.  If I am to be obedient, I must first listen.  So what does listening look like?  How do I listen?  Especially, how do I listen to the Lord?  

The plan is to continue this on the next post, don’t want to get too long winded here.  But be thinking! I’m curious as to how you listen to the Lord.

Prepare Your Provisions

Joshua 1:10-11 “And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, ‘Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to posses.’” 

“Prepare your provisions”, exactly what provisions should I be preparing?  It seems as though it would be pretty clear to the Israelites what they were to prepare; food, water, animals, their families and possessions.  They would be physically walking into the Jordan river and crossing into the Promised Land, they had been anticipating and waiting for, for 40 years.  The Hebrew words here are telling us to literally prepare and make ready our meat, food or provision.

Going over our Jordan into our promised land, at least for me, seems somewhat ambiguous. I have an idea, but I don’t have a clear path.  There is a dream, but not a clear map with a check list.  So what provisions do I need to prepare?  I can’t just pack my suitcase full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and clean underwear.  That would provide physical sustenance and needs, but my Jordan is going to require more than some PB&J.   

What do I really need in my suitcase for this journey?  What provisions?  Over the past couple of days, the only all-encompassing answer I’ve been able to settle on is the Lord. 

Jehovah-jireh, Lord Provider.  In Genesis 22 when Abraham brings Isaac, his only son, to Mt. Mariah to sacrifice him before the Lord.  Here, Abraham boldly trusts the Lord and is obedient.  And as Abraham is preparing to sacrifice his son, the Lord calls out to Abraham and provides a ram instead.  To me, it’s one of the most beautiful stories in the old Testament.  The foreshadowing, the trust, willing obedience and provision amaze me.  As a remembrance of what the Lord did for him, Abraham calls this place Jehovahjireh which means the LORD will provide.  Not the LORD may or might, but the LORD will provide.  There is action on Abrahams part, he didn’t just sit around and wait for provision, he took bold and courageous steps!  It was not the fun and easy path.  I also love how the Word uses LORD (all capitals) which reminds us that He is a covenant keeping LORD.  There is provision and Promised Land written all over this portion of Genesis.

In John 14:25-27 Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit, our Helper.  As a Believer the Holy Spirit resides within us, and I consider that eternal provision and an unmatched provision while we are walking this earth.  The provisions of the Holy Spirit are irreplaceable and abundant!  The Holy Spirit will teach us and give peace.  Sometimes I call part of this Holy Spirit within, Intuition.  Listening and trusting that which is within has taken some practice for me, requiring quiet time, listening, reflection and grace. 

Philippians 4:10-20 also speaks of God’s provision.  I just love this, and would highly recommend you spending some time reading and reflecting on this passage.  Briefly, for me it’s a good reminder and comfort knowing that there will be highs and there will be lows in life, there is no way around it.  We will share troubles.  We can choose to be, and learn to be, content in everything; remembering that God has and will continue to supply everything because His provisions are at work. 

When we choose to live with Jesus in our hearts, we have everything.  We have God the Father as LORD Provider.  We have the Holy Spirit as our guide, and we have Jesus who has provided an eternal gift of salvation.  He will provide for our every need if we allow him, because “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) 

He is enough for you and me, He is sufficient.  The Lord has provided friends and family to encourage and hold me accountable. The Lord has provided time, energy and resources.  The Lord has already prepared provisions ahead of me, because He knows what I’ll need and what I’ll face on the path ahead. There is a huge comfort to know that my “suitcase” is well stocked with provisions for the journey ahead as we ‘go over this Jordan’. 

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. He will supply every need.  And, it will be according to His riches, not my own.  

So, I will prepare my heart; filling it with Jesus, because He is my provision. 

Claiming a sidewalk

Earlier this week I went to school, the teacher was Brené Brown and the classroom was Courage Works.  The topic of study was The Anatomy of Trust.  Excellent, you should check it out.  One of the things I’ve been rumbling about in my head lately is boundaries and trust, so this was perfect.  I love how she spoke about and related it. 

After class, I went outside with the intent to work on something, anything.  Just get out in the sun, fresh air and work; it helps me think and feel better.  After bundling up I grabbed some tools and started towards the front of the house.  I haven’t worked in the landscape beds around my house for nearly a year, this would be a gift to me.  With shears and rake in hand I set about to prune bushes.  But I couldn’t get past the sidewalk. 

I look at this sidewalk every day.  Sometimes I don’t really see, but I look at it.  Every time someone comes over, I really see it.  Every time I open the front door, I see it.  Covered in grass and dirt, overgrown and hidden.  Honestly, we didn’t really have a sidewalk at all and had forgotten what was really there.  It had been lost in the muck and overgrowth.

Not being able to step across the sidewalk to prune the bushes, I started to pull a few weeds at the base of the steps at our front door.  Which led to a few more, and seconds latter it was clear to me the task at hand.  It was time to reclaim the sidewalk. 

Like the sidewalk unseen, sometimes do not see boundaries until we step on them or over them and usually squash something or someone.

I walked to the shed to get some new tools, because the ones previously picked would not work for the new found task.  This required a shovel and something sharp, not shears.  Sometimes as we are working through situations, we have to evaluate our tools and choose something different.  What I brought with me was not working. It’s not something to get upset about or quit over, but the opportunity to make a choice.  “This” is not working, I’m going to try something different.  For example, ‘This relationship is not working, I need to use a different “tool” in order to have what I want (relationship) my friend.’  Perhaps it’s space or needing to spend more time.  Perhaps it’s being more clear about boundaries, being honest or vulnerable.  As I discovered today, the new tool I’m going to be sharpening is speaking up.  Not necessarily voice level, but whats on my mind.

With this new understanding of trust percolating in my brain and how boundaries are related, I tore into this sidewalk.  I didn’t even know where the edges were! The boundary was so unclear.   

In the summer, this sidewalk gets mowed over.  How this mirrors relationship sometimes.  When we are unclear where boundaries are, we can get mowed over!  Emotions take us for ride and it does’t work, but how often do we say this isn’t working I need to do something different?  Instead, we just get angry.  Sometimes I just sit in hurt, and then it happens again.  Perhaps I set a boundary but I don’t enforce it.  (In full disclosure, I reclaimed our sidewalk 4-5 years ago, today I hauled 3 wheelbarrow loads off.)  Sometimes we don’t’ know a boundary exists until we cross it. 

I have the opportunity to reflect on a situation which recently took place in my life.  Boundaries were not respected.  There was a gaping hole in the fence (boundary) of trust.  I made my request known, to speak in person (not via text or email) and that I needed a little time, because this was something personal that needed to be taken care and I needed time to process.  As conditions changed, the boundary of time and in person were not respected.  Perhaps I should have gotten the pliers out a little sooner to fix the fence (boundary).  When pushed around on my sidewalk or in my pasture, it’s not good and usually I end up with skinned knees.  But I learned about a tool I want to sharpen, and something to do differently.  Speak up!  And not wait! This helps to make the boundary known and clear.  It will also help me to enforce it, building trust in myself and also reflecting that back to others.

After the shovel and sharp tools had accomplished their task, I got the hose out.  Spraying the dirt and muck away is SO rewarding.  We now have a clear sidewalk into the front of IMG_2436our home. My husband said, “Great, now people will come to the front door.”  And I thought wonderful! (We love our backdoor guests the best, but they wade through the piles of uglies on the way.)  I want to have clear boundaries, because it’s safe and inviting for others and myself.  A clear sidewalk is welcoming!

And, one of the best parts is when my kids got off the bus from school.  My daughter knelt down at the start of this “new” sidewalk, peering intently at the concrete.  I wondered what she was seeing for the first time as she looked up at me and said, “Look momma, 1968.” Go figure! I had no idea that was there before, we get to discover something new when we start to excavate.

I know where the boundaries are now.  The sidewalk is clear, and the rumbling in my head is starting to go in a direction of a different outcome next time.  The crab grass will begin to grow as weather warms, challenging the boundary lines.  But, I have a weed eater and the opportunity to practice using it in truth and love.

Be Strong & Courageous

“Be strong and courageous.”  Joshua 1:9

What exactly does this mean?  Because my working definition of strong tends to be one that has to do with “bully nosing through” as I tend to say, or being mentally or physically powerful. Strong equals muscle, hard and tough.  Sometimes this working definition of mine does not work.  I don’t think or feel that I have a enough “muscle” to push through. 

The hebrew word here for strong means to fasten upon, to seize, be strong (fortify, repair), to be established, withstand.  This definition, to me, allows room for grace and to know that I don’t have to feel it in order to do it.  We can be strong because we can fasten upon something, seize and withstand it!   Stepping foot in the Jordan, thats going to take some strength!  But we can fasten upon the knowing that there is a promise from God that is good.

Sometimes I think of strong as having this powerful engine moving forward.  When I don’t feel very powerful, I’m not going to act very strong moving forward.  But, there is strength in withstanding and being established. That shows strength.

What about courageous?  Webster’s put it, the quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty, danger without fear; bravery.

The Hebrew word for courage in Joshua 1:9 is to be alert, physically or mentally; establish, increase, harden, make strong.  I love how the two go hand in hand.  To seize something (be strong), you must be alert (have courage). 

What does being strong and courageous mean to you?  What does that look like in my (your) walk right now?  Is it simply standing still and waiting on God?  That takes courage and strength. Being strong and courageous will require me (you) to be focused and stay alert along the path. 

God speaks this to Joshua and the Israelites three times!  When He repeats something, it’s a good idea to take note and listen.  I don’t always get it the first time or two.  The Lord tells us to be strong and courageous, because there is promised land at stake here.  Be strong and courageous, because it will require us to do something.  Be strong and courageous, because I AM is with you! 

I love the last one, because it is accompanied with the reminder that my Heavenly Father is with me wherever I go.  I will not go over the Jordan by myself.  The Father is at my side, ahead of me, he’s there if I loose focus, and to provide for all the needs along the way.  And as a sweet friend shared, there are usually others being strong and courageous along the way to help dust me off and point to a road sign along the path. 

Focus

Yesterday I started this blog.  After publishing the first post, I shared it with a couple people.  Almost immediately, I started wondering if anyone had clicked on the link and read what was posted.  It’s out there now, I wonder what they think. The “is it (am I) good enough?” tape began to play in my head.  “Perhaps I should share it with more people” in hopes that by casting the net I would have the chance of someone accepting it (or accept me). The internal committee started talking. 

The message that I just need to keep writing, studying God’s word and reading other’s works and studies started to drum in my head.  Focus.  It’s not up to me to make this happen to the extent of my dream, it’s God.  Do I need to be obedient, yes; and that requires action!  Obedience and action will require focus and being intentional. “Keep writing and posting as the Lord leads, don’t try to hard, let it flow” is what I’m hearing now.  He will part the waters, just wait for Joshua 3!   

“Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success (act wisely) wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7

Do not turn from it to the right or to the left.  The “it” is the instruction to follow the law of Moses.  As believers and followers of Jesus, we get the law that Moses received but also what Jesus instructed us to do.  The commandments Jesus gave us is to love God and love others.  Sometimes we see the Ten Commandments and think “rules” and maybe even defiantly “rules are meant to be broken”.   We start to see rules and automatically start to add our own, man-made rules and pass judgement.  This is so dangerous because in doing so, we start to lose sight of what we’re really supposed to be doing and just start making, following and enforcing rules and putting people (or God) in boxes rather than creating relationship.

So I’m going with the laws from Jesus, to love God and love others, as my compass. And loving others includes loving myself.   

For me to stay focused, it’s important to know what is catching my attention. 

I look to the left and see others doing better than me.  Sometimes, looking to the right is actually listening to those tapes or the internal committee in my mind. The mind is powerful, and it can play intense messages over and over again.  While growing up, and doing some of the change work my family participated in, we called them “tapes”.  Messages we tell ourselves over and over.  We put these messages on repeat, usually its not the truth.  Sometimes I call them gremlins, that gives me a really good visual!  Often it feels like the tapes have taken on a life all their own and I accept them as truth even more.    

I look to the right and get distracted by laundry, different projects, tasks that others want me to do, and the myriad of other busy tasks that serve as excuses to not keep walking the path before me.  Honestly, sometimes I allow those glimpses to the right or left gobble up my time, brain space and energy because I simply don’t know where to step on the path next. 

What catches your attention, to the right or to the left?

How can I (we) stay focused on the path?  For me, knowing the truth helps me to be focused and keep walking.  The truth is I am a complete and powerful woman.  The truth is I am worthy.  The truth is that I am a child of God, His daughter.  The truth is my life is rich and abundant!  The truth is my family is making generational change. The truth is that knowing what I want is important.  The truth is that even when I get sidetracked veering to the “left” or “right”, lessons can be learned.  And by God’s grace I can continue to walk the path with those diversions. 

Another way for me to stay focused is to use the commandments Jesus gave us to love God and love others.  For me, to love God is to spend time communing with Him.  Some people call this prayer.  I pray, but for me sometimes it’s being or working outside and enjoying enjoying and learning from His creations.  Reading His Word and listening or singing praise music.  Playing with and loving my kids, to me is a way of loving God.  We also show our love to God through our obedience, which is an action word. 

Loving others can be a tough one sometimes, and I believe that loving others includes loving ourselves.  Part of loving myself is knowing the truth and not believing the false tapes playing on repeat.   Taking time to spend with others whom He has gifted me, being present.  Showing others love through our actions and not just speaking it.  Doing things for people with the attitude of love and thankfulness, not because I feel obligated.  I can choose to love on my family by doing their laundry with joy and gratitude. I can serve them with clean underwear and clothes to wear instead of being really angry that it’s one more thing on my to-do list.  Loving others doesn’t have to be over the top, it’s simple. I don’t do this well all the time, there is room to grow.  And for that I am grateful.

“Do not turn to the right or to the left that you may act wisely where ever you go.” If I am to “go over this Jordan” and reside in my promised land, I want to stay focused while loving God and loving others.  Focused, aware and present.