Distractions

I want to start off this blog with something that I feel is super prevalent right now. Distractions. By definition the word distraction means, “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.” Synonyms include a diversion, an interruption, a disturbance, an interference, or a hindrance. I personally have been going through a season of distractions, specifically when it comes to spending time in the Word. After having my third baby, it has been almost like a battle of some sorts to try to carve the time out to just simply spend time with the Lord. It used to be so easy, but in this season of life it’s been difficult. I heard someone say one time that if Satan can’t defeat you, then he will distract you. And, honey, this is absolute truth! Just in sitting down to write this blog entry, I’ve already been distracted…A LOT.

There’s a scripture found in Mark 4 which is from the parable of the farmer scattering seed. Verse 19 says, “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” When I read this I am immediately redirected to distractions—those “things” or “interruptions” that are coming between me and my time with God. Those “other things” are coming in and choking out the Word, or choking out my quiet time, and are therefore making me unfruitful! NOT GOOD. Time to make a serious change.

I also love this passage found in Colossians 3:1–2, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” I dare say, most of my distractions, and probably yours too, are earthly distractions. For me, to put it simply, it’s my phone and my kids. I have the best intentions by sitting down, Bible open, pen in hand, notebook out and ready to be written in, and all of a sudden I’ll get a text from my best friend or my husband will ask me a question, or my 4-year-old will want something to drink, or the baby will be playing with a very loud toy, or my oldest will ask me to take her somewhere, or my mind will just start thinking about the most absurd and random things. I’ll instantly remember all the things that are on my “to-do” list, whether it be for the house, my job, my church, my kids…you name it, my mind is flooded with it. The Bible tells us clearly in this passage to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. All of those distractions I mentioned above that are my personal distractions…those are earthly things. The phrase “Set your minds” is actually an action statement. To set is a verb meaning “to put something (my mind) in a specified place or position.” This is telling me that I have to actively and purposefully put myself and my mind in a position to solely be focused on being in the Word. I’ve got to do the necessary steps to eliminate my distractions.

I was sitting down at my dining room table last week and was attempting my usual routine of quiet time.  Within a few minutes, I of course was distracted a few times and I found myself just sitting there chewing on my pen and saying to myself, “Why is this so hard???!” I instantly heard the Holy Spirit softly say “10 days.” Ten days, I thought? And then it hit me. He’s wanting me to physically turn off my distractions for ten days. I knew that for me it meant no Facebook, no Instagram, no Pinterest. No sitting down with my phone during my quiet time. In fact, I’m to put it on “do not disturb” mode.

He also recently showed me a place in my home where I am to go from now on for my quiet time. It’s to the couch that sits inside our office. And I am to close the doors. While I’m sure I will miss social media for a bit, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m super excited for these next 10 days. I know the Lord is wanting to teach me something and reveal something to me and there’s honestly not much more invigorating than that. So, for these next 10 days, I will remove those social media apps from my phone. I will place my phone on “do not disturb” during my quiet time. I will make sure my kids have their breakfast in place and that my husband knows I will be out of commission for a little bit while I sit on the couch in the office with those doors closed.

We can’t afford to be so connected to this life but be so disconnected with our Father. We can’t allow other things to come in and consume our time and minds. I personally don’t want to live a distracted life. I want to live a Jesus-infused life where I’m not listening to the noise of the world, but more so the voice of my Creator. Sure, some of our distractions are fun, but that fun is just temporary; it’s not eternal.

I’ll close with this story found in the Bible about Mary and her sister Martha. Luke 10:38–42 in The Message says, “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.’ The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course and it won’t be taken from her.’

There’s so much goodness in here.

  • Mary, sitting before the Master, hanging on to every word he said.
  • Martha interrupting them (remember interruption was one of our synonyms earlier for distraction)
  • The Lord gently correcting her by calling her name twice, then telling her that only ONE thing is essential!
  • Mary chose it! (We have to make that choice, too.)

Mary saw the Lord as her treasure, totally focused on Him, hanging on to every word. Martha was being busy and getting caught up in her distractions and was missing out on the main course, as its referred to here in this passage. Don’t be busy and distracted like Martha. Don’t miss out on the main course!

Matthew 6:21 says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” If your treasure or the things you value are earthly things such as your phone, social media, or your “to-do list,” then that is exactly where your heart will live. But if your treasure or things you value are heavenly things such as the Word of God, the plans He has for your life, or your relationship with the Holy Spirit, then that is where your heart will live. And not just live, but thrive.

I challenge you to go through these next 10 days with me if you feel inclined. Let’s turn off all our distractions. Let’s go to our quiet place and open His Word. Let’s position our minds to be saturated with what He has to say to us. As we read, let’s ponder and read it slowly asking how this relates to us, to our families, to our children, husbands, jobs so that every area of our life can take on a God-focused life free from the enemies distractions.

“Father, I thank You for infusing me with Your strength to get through these next 10 days without being distracted from Your presence. Open my heart and my mind to understand Your Word, fill me with complete knowledge of Your will and give me spiritual wisdom and understanding. Help me to always fix my mind on You. You are my one, true treasure. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

If you decide to do this 10-day challenge with me, please take a second and head over to the menu section, and click on the contact tab to shoot me a message and let me know so I can be specifically pray for you!

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Trusting the Wait!

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I have to admit that I am a very impatient person. I like a quick turnaround. I like fast results. I like to get going! I’m not one of those girls who goes shopping for hours on end to only make a few purchases. I can walk into my favorite store and basically clean house in 30 minutes. I know what I want and I make it happen. Having to wait on something regardless of what it is can be grueling for me. I’m instantly reminded of my four-year-old daughter. What is it about this age and them taking their sweet time when getting in and out of the car? Anybody?!?! I seriously just about lose my mind waiting for her to climb in and actually sit in her seat. Then getting out of the car seems to take waaaay longer than the process of getting in! She is just beating to her own drum and very slowly makes her way out. It seriously feels like 10 solid minutes. Unreal. I even find that I have a hard time waiting and listening to my 12-year-old daughter as she tells me a story about something. It may be an incident that occurred during her school day or something as simple as her telling me about an outfit choice she has made. It takes her forever to tell the story. She has to give—EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL.—and all the while I am thinking to myself HURRY UP! Get to the point! Clearly, I have some things to work on, and I am, but waiting is just not my thing!

This leads me to my topic for this blog. Waiting. More specifically, being in a season of waiting. My husband and I started out 2018 with some high expectations of things to come and to be very honest, we are five months into this year and those expectations just have not come to pass. It has been very frustrating. It’s been really easy to stay disappointed or discouraged. But I am learning some very valuable things. This is not a time for me to be impatient. This is not a time for me to rush through. This is a time for me to press in—press way in and develop an even deeper relationship with God.

It’s very clear in the Word that there are many different seasons of life. Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 (ESV) says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

If you read a little further in verse 11 it goes on to say, “God has set the right time for everything.” Just because I am not seeing things manifest now and happen now, does not mean God is not working. God never stops working on our behalf. We need to use these waiting seasons to deepen that relationship with Him and learn to fully trust Him. Micah 7:7 (CEV) says, “I trust the Lord God to save me and I will wait for him to answer my prayer.” I have made a personal confession: I will trust Him in this waiting.

My season of waiting may look different than yours. Yours may look longer than mine. Maybe even years. Maybe you are waiting for a job opportunity to come. Maybe you are waiting for a broken heart to heal. Maybe you have suffered through a miscarriage and you are waiting to become pregnant again. Maybe you’re waiting for a significant change to occur in your marriage, in your home, or in your children. Whatever your wait is, God is there. He promises us in His Word, “I am the Lord, and when it is time, I will make these things happen quickly” (Isaiah 60:22 ESV).

There are so many examples of seasons of waiting in the Bible to learn from. I think about Joseph and how God had given him a dream that he would one day be the leader of Egypt. It didn’t happen right away by any means. In fact, he was sold into slavery and then later thrown into a prison all for a total of around 13 years (Gen. 37–50). Joseph remained faithful to God that entire time. And God remained faithful to him as well, always taking excellent care of him. I can honestly say that during these five months of waiting, the Lord has just blessed me and shown me His faithfulness several times in tangible ways.

It’s in this waiting time as I deepen my relationship with Him and pour out my heart to Him, He is restoring my hope and my vision and is persistent in reminding me of His faithfulness. I’ve recently spent some time looking back over my life and have just been able to remind myself of how He’s always been faithful in every circumstance and that has given me the strength and courage I need to keep pressing on.

He’s also inviting me to rest. Psalm 46:10 says to “cease striving and know that I am God” (NASB). The New King James Version says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” By resting in Him, by trusting in Him, by confessing that when it’s time, He will make these things happen quickly, I can truly be free from worrying about how all this is going to turn out. I can be free from stressing over when this season of waiting will end. I can rest assured and have full confidence that He is faithful on all of His promises to me and that He has set the right time for everything. And you can too! Press in, go deeper with Him, and rejoice in the waiting. Look at it as an opportunity to spend more quality time with Jesus. Get rid of the doubts. Get rid of the bad attitude, negative comments, and the grumbling. He has something amazing prepared for us at the end of our waiting. Will you stay faithful? I know I will!

 

Diggin’ in the Dirt

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I don’t know about you all but I am so ready for spring! It feels like this super cold weather just keeps lingering and lingering. It almost has this depressive feel about it when it’s difficult to get outside to play with your kids or when you feel stuck indoors because of how cold and wet everything has been for months and months. I am ready to see flowers, green grass, and all the new things that spring forth during this next season.

My husband and I recently went outdoors and planted some trees at our new house. We planted 10 to be exact, but they weren’t trees like you picture in your head probably. They were twigs, and I mean absolute twigs. You know, it was one of those deals where you move into a new home and the Arbor Day Foundation sends you info wanting you to join and participate in a survey about how important trees are and, in return, they send you 10 free trees. I thought Woohoo, 10 trees! This is going to be awesome!

So of course I participated in the survey and waited for my sweet little trees to arrive. I even googled them ahead of time to see what each tree would look like and, in my head I was so anticipating how pretty our yard was going to look. Needless to say when they arrived, I was kinda shocked. I let out a small giggle and said, “What in the heck is this?” I don’t know what I was expecting but is certainly wasn’t twigs!

Nonetheless, we were still excited to plant them, so as we went around the front and backyard, my husband would dig a hole and I was responsible for holding the twig upright while he filled the hole in. I was happy to see how some of the twigs had already sprouted some tiny green growths on them. And I’ll have you know, I prayed over every single one of those twigs! HA! I asked the Lord to bless them and that they would grow into the beautiful trees they were intended to be. Honestly, the main reason I was praying over them was because our yard is nothing but that difficult North Carolina red clay. Mud. Pure mud is what it is. How in the world would these trees ever make it in this type of soil?

I began to think this is a lot like us. We are just like those twigs being planted in that soil. Our survival and ability to thrive and grow are very dependent upon the soil we are planted in and the soil we allow ourselves to become. Jesus talks about the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. In verse 23 Jesus says, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” He’s saying here that good soil comes from those of us who truly hear and understand the Word of God…those of us who spend time with Him and in His Word…the ones who are hearing it and choose to keep hearing it!

I love Luke’s account of this as well found in Luke 8:15, “And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” The part that really sticks out to me here is “cling to it.” In the Amplified Bible, it says to “hold on to it tightly.” This comes from meditating continually on what God has to teach us through our personal quiet time, devotions, reading this blog, listening to sermons that build our faith, and attending church…regularly. Our churches are a place of solid and fertile ground. Church is the perfect place to regularly create the environment of exactly what these verses are telling us. It’s a place to regularly hear the Word. The Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). By going to church, we are putting ourselves in a position to hear the Word preached.

As a born-again believer, I am told in 1 Peter 1:23 (ESV) that I am now made a seed that is imperishable, through Jesus Christ. I have been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). I am made to live and live abundantly (John 10:10)!

But, just like the twig I planted in muddy soil, I can’t expect it to grow if I don’t tend to and water the soil. Sure, it may sprout some new life here and there, but it will never reach its full potential unless it is growing in good soil. It will never grow to abundance.

I believe we need to take a moment and look at our soil. Are we staying firmly planted in soil of worry? Are we staying firmly planted in soil of constant doubt and fear? Are we staying firmly planted in soil that is full of shame and regret? Are we staying firmly planted in grief over something or someone we have lost? Are we staying firmly planted in an environment of negativity or ungodly friends who are holding us back?

Friends, we need to tend to our soil! If we are in those soils of shame, regret, grief, negativity, and sin, we will continue to grow the same things! That’s what we will continue to harvest. We need to get in there and pull out the weeds, gravel, and anything that is preventing us from growing and springing forth the way Jesus Christ intended! We need to follow what the Bible is telling us and get into the Word. We need to start having a quiet time with Him each and every day. We need to build a relationship with Him. We need to get firmly planted in a church where we can allow the Word of God to change us, to infiltrate our minds and souls, so we will begin to start thinking His way and become fruit-bearing seeds for His glory.

I love the Psalms. Whenever I just have no clue what to read from the Bible on any given day or I don’t have a devotional or something specific I’m studying out, I head straight to the Psalms. They instantly bring me to a place of worship with the Lord. Many of them highlight the joy I have in Jesus. In Psalm 1:1–3 “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with the mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” I really wish you would go back and slowly read over that just one more time and let it sink in.

Think about it like this: “Oh the joys of those who tend to their soil and weed out the ways and advice of the wicked and the ones who mock us. We are the ones who delight in the Bible, in the Word of the Lord and are constantly meditating in it. We will be the ones who will flourish and bear fruit each season (during the good ones and the bad). We will not wither and we will prosper in all we do.” That’s His promise to us.

Friends, it’s time to weed out all the things that are preventing our full growth. It’s time we commit to stay firmly planted in good soil.

Let’s pray.

Dear Lord, I thank you for Your Word. I thank You that through Jesus Christ, You came to give me life abundantly. Lord, I ask You to help me weed out all those areas in my life that are not bearing fruit. I ask You to give me wisdom to tend to those things that are not creating the optimal soil in my life where I can grow and flourish in Your ways. I ask You to give me the courage to detach myself from those around me who are creating environments of negativity and, Lord, I ask You to help me be a light in those situations so that those living in that dark place can see You shining through me. I thank You that I don’t have to live with feelings of worry, fear, shame, guilt, condemnation, and grief. I thank You, Jesus, that because of Your sacrifice on the cross I am totally free. I thank You for Your life that is flowing through my veins allowing me to grow to my fullest potential in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

No more fear! No more worry!

Have you ever just been wrecked with fear? Have you ever had something happen or come up in your life that literally shook you to your core?

This happened to me recently. Looking back, I’m astonished the fear came in so easily. I’m the girl who daily fills herself up with God’s Word and His truths and makes it a practice to fight off the enemy and his low blows and attacks.

But not this day.

I learned of something absolutely terrifying that happened in my daughter’s school that potentially put her too close to danger, in my opinion. If that wasn’t bad enough, what she told me followed a major scare that took place in our nation. I instantly became frozen and stiff with fear and worry. My shoulders started burning, which is how anxiety typically manifests in my body. I mean, they were on fire and the burning sensation was not letting up.

After that, I was on a mission. I began chit chatting with other moms. I started making phone calls and sending emails because I wanted to make sure I’d done everything humanly possible to protect my daughter.

But before I knew it, the next day had come and I sensed the fear and anxiety now rolling over onto my other two daughters, who are still young and not in school yet. My mind began to run completely wild. It was going places it should never be going.

That night when I went to bed, I had a full blown nighmare that something horrible happened to one of my girls. I remember waking up with the sickest feeling in my stomach. As my day continued I would periodically have visions pass through my head of more bad things happening to my children.

Later that afternoon, my husband and I were in the car driving. We were headed to a cell phone store to ensure that my oldest daughter had what she needed so I could continually feel connected to her, especially in times of an emergency. On the ride over, things weren’t going exactly the way I wanted and, in an instant, I found myself snapping at my husband. Like, crazy-town snapping. I was elevating my voice, lashing out, and making false accusations towards him. (I’m sure someone can relate with this!)

Right after I snapped, I immediately thought What in the world just happened?

I was really taken aback because this is not normal behavior between my husband and I. We don’t argue. I don’t snap at him. I don’t lash out at him. I don’t say negative things to him. He’s my best friend and my most favorite human to be around. So what in the world just happened?

I was still angry in a sense, at the situation and at myself. In that moment I began to sing a worship song to the Lord in my head. About two minutes into the song, I slowly felt my spirit calm down. I looked over at Jeff and told him I was sorry.

That night, the Lord really spoke to my spirit. He took me to Philipians 4:6–7 (NLT) which says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I felt instant relief. Just like that. His words washed over me and I literally felt this heavy blanket of peace laying on my whole body.

Man, why did this have to take three days before I got my act together and dug into my source? My Source of life! Through these verses the Lord was telling me, “Kelli, first of all, don’t worry, pray! Tell me what you need. Thank ME for the things I am doing in your life. Thank Me for the protection I am providing to you, your family, and your precious daughters. THEN, you will experience My peace.”

It was in that moment I resolved to be totally vigilant the next time any fear, worry, or anxiety tried to take hold of me. I resolved to be alert! I resolved to be on the lookout!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT), “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

I see you devil. I’m watching out for you and you are not going to devour this Jesus girl.

Are you fighting fear, worry, or anxiety about something today? Are you sitting there reading this crippled by fear of something? Friend, I am here to tell you to follow the instructions of the Lord. Stop the worry. Pray to Him and tell Him exactly what it is you need. Thank Him for doing it. And then—then—experience His peace that surpasses all understanding. We can be free from fear. We can be free from worry. We can be free from anxiety. Just roll it all over onto Him.

Let’s pray:

“Lord, I thank You for Your Word. I thank You that in You I am free from all of my fears, worry, and anxiety. I thank You Lord that You are working on my behalf. I thank You that You hear and care about my concerns. I thank You for sending Your peace to continually guard my heart. I love you! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”