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Yes, and…

mayyes-and-fancyWhile my husband and I were at a financial workshop designed for couples to communicate effectively in regard to the emotional impact finances have on their marriage, we did an interesting activity involving brainstorming. We were given a scenario and told to try to solve the dilemma using the phrase “Yes, but…” After a few minutes we were instructed to use the same scenario, but use the phrase “Yes, and…” while brainstorming.

What a difference one word makes! At the completion of the exercise, we talked about how easy it was to use “Yes, but…” to get our point across, yet, didn’t help us solve the problem. Using the phrase, “Yes, and…” took a little more effort but opened our hearts and minds to greater possibilities.

Later in the evening we had opportunity to brainstorm solutions for one of our own financial goals. While doing this, my husband and I found ourselves in a quandary because we were literally saying “Yes, but…” and tension was escalating. “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but you want me to do what?” “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but that’s ridiculous!”

We weren’t getting anywhere because we weren’t hearing each other. Suddenly it hit us! We were saying the wrong things! We smiled! We laughed! We regrouped! We started saying, “Yes, and…” We had fun! We brainstormed! We came up with a plan! We’re on our way to reaching our goal!

All this got me thinking though about something bigger! It got me thinking about the power of those two little words, “Yes, and…” AND what if we used those words with Jesus! What if we read His Word and always responded with those two words?

let_not_your_heart_be_troubled_mousepad-p144284209831913735envq7_400Here’s what it might look like taking John 14 as an example: Jesus says, “Don’t let your hearts get all out of whack! Don’t be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” We say, “Yes, and how cool is it that we don’t have a trouble in the world AND how cool is it that we GET to believe.”

maxresdefaultJesus says, “Yes, and in My Father’s house are MANY mansions. I’m going there to prepare a place for you.” We say, “Yes, and when I die, I GET to live in the place You’re preparing.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and since I’m going away to get this place ready, you can believe I’m coming back to get you so where I am, you are.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait to see what You’ve prepared for me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and where I go, you know! AND, you know the way.” We say, “Yes, and we know we know the way because we know You.” (Yes, read it the way I wrote it)

imagesJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We say “Yes, and knowing You the way we do, we also know our Father.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and because you believe in Me you get to come to your Father.” We say, “Yes, and now because we know our Father, can you show us our Father?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and I can do more than that! Just so you know…you’re looking at Him…because when you see Me you see your Father who is in Me and I am in Him.” We say, “YES, and…Is there more, Jesus?”

He says, “Yes, and assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” We say, “Yes, and how excited we are to do these greater works. Is there more?”

20120319-231032Jesus says, “Yes, and whatever you ask in My name, I will go ahead and do it just so My Father will be glorified in Me.” We say, “Yes, and from now on I’m going to ask for all the “whatever’s” in Your name. Is there still more?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you ask ANYTHING in My Name, I will do it.” We say, “Are You kidding me?” (haha!) No, we say, “Yes, and if I ask for anything in Your name, I know You will do it. More Lord?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” We say, “Yes, and because I love You, it is truly an honor and privilege to obey You.”

pic twoJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I will pray that My Father will give you another Helper who will stay with you forever.” We say, “Yes, and I can’t wait to get to know this Helper intimately.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and this Helper is the Spirit of truth and you already know Him.” We say, “Yes, and we know Him because He lives in us and is with us all the time,everywhere we go.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and you can believe something else too… I would never leave you fatherless. I’m coming back.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait! I’m so excited for the time You are coming to get me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and until that time the Helper, Holy Spirit, whom Father God is sending in My name will teach you everything you need to know and He will help you remember everything I’ve said to you.” We say, “Yes, and I am teachable and want to know and remember everything! Is there still more?”

images (1)Jesus says, “Yes, and I’m leaving you something real special. My peace! It will keep your heart from being troubled and afraid.” We say, “Yes, and Your peace is so different from the fake peace the world offers us.”

Yes, and I could go on and on and on in God’s Word! I could show you lots of examples where we see people saying, “Yes, and…” People like Abraham when God said He would make his descendants like sand on the seashore. People like Rebekah who went with Abraham’s servant when he met her at the well and said he would like to take her back to be Isaac’s wife. People like Mary, Joseph, Paul, and let’s not forget Jesus, who always responded to His Father with “Yes, and…”

There are lots of “Yes, but…” responses too. BUT, those don’t turn out so well just as our “Yes, but’s” don’t turn out so well today! It’s a choice! As for me, I’m going to make sure my vocabulary includes the phrase, “Yes, and…” instead of “Yes, but…” and I’m going to have some fun with the Lord today and everyday! How about you? My suggestion is you give it a try! What do you have to lose except some “but’s”!

 

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Peace, Uncategorized

 

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Closings…They Hurt…But They Serve His Purpose!

We lived in what is sometimes called a “starter” home for seventeen years. We never intended to stay that long. We were planning on two to three years; just a transition house….while we looked for something affordable and quaint out in the country. But just like that…nearly two decades had come and gone. With our four children plus other people occasionally living with us for weeks, months, or even years, we definitely kept it “cozy”!

photo (13)A few years into the seventeen, while I was struggling with health issues after a serious auto accident, my husband added a four-season porch off the kitchen. However, it was never really just a porch. It was our “Upper Room” filled with sunlight and breeze. It was a place for me to be alone, pray and heal; where media devices weren’t allowed; where I could hear God apart from all the distractions of this world. Though we lived in a bustling suburb with neighbors all around and the constant rumble of traffic, the Upper Room gave the ambiance of rural life, and it was there that God brought physical healing and spiritual growth to me.

photo (12)The Upper Room became a favorite place for others as well; the atmosphere catering to great conversation, laughter, fun, and fellowship! Thus, in addition to serving as my room for studying the Bible, worship, praise, prayer, and pouring my heart out on paper, laptop, or I-pad, it was the perfect area for family gatherings, women’s bible studies, corporate worship and praise, prayer meetings, holiday get-together’s, home school, dining room, playroom, and napping room too!

We were blessed in the Upper Room for nearly ten of the seventeen years we lived in our home. So when the time came to move on, as silly as it might sound, leaving the Upper Room behind was difficult for me. Naturally I “knew” it was just a room; God is present everywhere so I was in good hands. But God’s presence had been so tangible and His healing touch so concrete in the Upper Room, I didn’t want to leave it behind!

photo (14)Over the weeks leading up to moving day as I packed our belongings including everything in the Upper Room, the memories, good and bad, echoed in my mind. I recalled being distraught at my inability to help my husband build the Upper Room because of physical pain. I reminisced about God’s peace that passes understanding was so tangible in the Upper Room. I thought about the intimacy created with God and others in the Upper Room; the healing and deliverance that happened in the Upper Room; the laughter and tears collected as family and friends gathered to enjoy each other and God in the Upper Room; the praise, worship, prayer, intercession, and teaching in the Upper Room; the celebrations and special times spent in the Upper Room! How could God top what happened there? How could I leave such a special place created for me? Would I ever have an Upper Room like it again?

On the morning of our closing, I went through each room one last time and the myriad of emotions along with flashes of memorable events was astounding. I welcomed them all…that is…until I reached the Upper Room. Suddenly I felt paralyzed; unable to go in. For just a split second, the sense of loss was overwhelming with tears welling in my eyes! I left the house without going into my Upper Room one last time; the same room I had walked into every morning for nearly a decade; the same room I experienced a splash of freshness every time I entered!

photo (11)photo (9)On the way to our closings I cried sweet, cleansing tears as I came to terms with the reality I would never see my Upper Room again, much less spend time there! I also smiled through my tears as a random thought occurred to me, “Consider it closed”.  This was the Realty company motto I saw proudly displayed on correspondence for months now. How true these words rang in my spirit that morning, “Consider it closed”.  With the door closing on Garner Avenue in Rosemount, I needed to consider it closed. BUT, just as quickly as that thought swooped into my brain, a second thought struck me; I needed to consider a new door opening on Guarani Street in Oak Grove, because in the next few hours, we would be signing papers saying we sold one house and bought another!

That’s what happens with most “closings” in life…they are accompanied by tears, smiles, and other emotions! For example, graduations whether from kindergarten, high school, college, or graduate school can bring tears because we’ll miss the people and activities but we also smile thinking of what’s ahead (not to mention we’re done studying).  Jobs and careers close on us and we may cry if we’re fired or laid off and we may smile when promoted, but all are closings of something. Businesses and churches close! These closings can cause anger while people fight for the wrong thing or play the blame game. But these closings can also move people to reflect on where they’ve been and where they’re headed, perhaps a new and exciting direction, bringing gladness to the soul.  One kind of closing can really undo most people…road closings! Talk about firing up all emotions on one cylinder! Finally we come to the final closing…death…when it feels the door to our loved ones is slammed shut forever! There’s always an abundance of tears shed when death closes in, AND, many smiles as we reminisce plus remind ourselves as believers we WILL see them again!

People say when God closes a door, He opens a window. Well, that’s not exactly biblical even though it certainly does make people feel better about their situations. But God is not into making people feel better! He IS into making people better, and the good feelings follow. God makes all things new and He has purpose in all things! Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Closings certainly serve a purpose! We are unlikely to perceive His purpose in them if we’re looking for “our” purpose in life! Stay tuned for the next blog when I share more about my Upper room, closings and His purpose!

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Life

 

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The Winter Trip Reminding Me of Where We Belong!

While a lot of people in the Midwest look to get away someplace warm in the winter, especially those over fifty years old, my husband and I chose to take a brief three-day trip up to the Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. Even though I’ve been going up to the Shore for over four decades, because of ministry demands, Christmas activities, sermons, extra services, and preparations, we have never went up in the winter.

Layne-Kennedy-Grand-Marais-2_LCK0205It’s about a five-hour drive to reach our final destination but 2 ½ hours into it gives our first glimpse of the Great Lake where I immediately get this overwhelming sense of joy and peace. I breathe easier, smile more, and simply feel at ease when “I’m back” at the North Shore. Another two hours of driving brought us to one of my favorite cities, Grand Marais, where we hit up our usual eating establishment for front_imagelunch, the Blue Water Café, known as “The Meeting place in Grand Marais”!  It always feels like we step back in time; people engage in intimate conversation; the atmosphere is relaxed; no one grabs a quick-lunch; and no phone orders are called in! It has a hometown, home-cooked feeling where everyone is welcome.

We heard soft Christian music in the background with one of our favorite songs “Where I Belong” playing as we settled in. Coincidence? I think not! The waitress kindly waited for us to finish singing before taking our order. An Advent book sat on the table so my husband read the days’ devotion to me. We prayed before eating and shortly after the owner came over thanking us for taking time to thank the Lord! Now THAT is COOL! He said it meant a lot for him to see us pray. Well, it meant a lot for me to witness his boldness in sharing our common faith in Jesus in his restaurant. If our get-away would have ended right then, it would have been perfect!

252209_10151280674188147_1179379133_nAfter a home-cooked lunch we meandered through the town unhindered by the swarm of tourists we’re used to. Many of the shops were either closed or emptied out, but there were enough open ones still so as not to leave empty-handed. Though the streets were practically deserted, and the cold air palpable, we still felt the warmth of this very special place; it’s innocence tangible as we passed the community board where two hand-written signs were posted, “Please use push pins” and “Please don’t pin the wood, use the board”. Simple, direct, kind, trusting requests making me smile, thinking we wouldn’t see that in the big city!

photo (8)We drove another half hour to Hollow Rock resort where we unloaded the car and were immediatly struck by the noise of the thunderous waves, much different from what we hear in the summer, especially since there was no wind. The Great Lake waters were heaving, wave after wave crushing the shoreline to the point of being ominous. It was so intriguing we ventured out to the Hollow Rock in the lake even before unpacking inside, risking the violent waters as we leapt onto the rocks and climbing to the top. Once there, we gingerly looked down over the raging waters below, amazed by the sight and sound of so powerful a body of water, deafening but oh so beautiful! At that moment, all I could think is how much noisier and greater God is than the waters He created!

Psalms 93:4 “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea.”

8234629491_2bfd03f469The next morning we bundled up with boots, snow pants, coats, mittens, scarves, and hats for a chilly hike, eager to climb boulders, cross creeks, skip stones, and see all the sights God had ready for us this day! As we maneuvered the rock formations we discovered winter hiking is a bit trickier than summer hiking, not just because of the thin sheets of ice covering some of the boulders but also because of the cold temperature effects on our bodies. I would definitely insist winter hiking is all about “mind over matter”, in this instance, the “matter” being our knees! As we trekked up, over, and down enormous boulders, our limbs stretched to their limits, sometimes beyond what we thought was possible especially with all the extra clothing binding us!

It didn’t take more than a few jumps down from platforms to discover the shock absorbers in our knees weren’t absorbing the shock because of cold. It’s one thing to watch each other scale the huge north shore boulders but a whole other thing to see us come OFF those platforms! Let’s just say we didn’t “stick” many landings! Humorous just begins to describe what we must have looked like! I’m just glad no video cameras were around to capture our inelegant boulder dismounts!

The challenge and laughter were evident as we had several opportunities to “take one for the team”, stumbling forward to keep our balance. But I can proudly proclaim we both managed to walk away with no falls, even though it wasn’t pretty! And through it all, I still find the North Shore mesmerizing; the beauty of God’s creation breathtaking, the waves crushing the shoreline fierce and formidable; the surroundings giving a sense of being lost in space!

photo (7)One time while taking a breather, sitting on a fallen tree, stripped of its bark over time and wear and tear of the waves, I closed my eyes and turned my face to the sun while soaking up the greatness of God, losing myself in the sounds of many waters! Then, I remembered my husband was along so looked for him only to find he had hollowed out a place in the rocks to lie down and take a snooze, soaking in the warmth of the sun as well. Though our winter clothing was adequate in protecting our bodies from the cold, the sun did a far better job, and the warmth of Jesus on the inside was better than those two put together!

I had this tremendous sense of completeness sitting by the Great Lake soaking in the Son/sunshine and wondered how I could take this back with me to the hustle and bustle, demands, and simple necessities of life! As I pondered this, Holy Spirit reminded me I could and I can! This “completeness” can be a lifestyle no matter where I am or what I’m doing. He reminded me of the beautiful Psalm I had just used in a message on overcoming worshiplessness. In an age where we are so consumed with “stuff”, worship is often relegated to thoughts of “going to worship” or “attending a worship service” instead of being a way of life!  Completeness though is found in the Lord, wherever we happen to be in life!

309bPsalm 95:1-6 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”

I was experiencing the Rock, the greatness of God, the deep places of the earth, the heights of the hills, the sea and the dry land right there in Northern Minnesota! I was in His presence, worshipping and bowing down, kneeling before the Lord my Maker! And that’s not the only place I can come into His presence! I can worship and bow down anytime and anyplace! I can kneel before the Lord my Maker all the time! I didn’t need to leave this peaceful, serene feeling on the North Shore! I could take it with me! Of course, I already knew this but suddenly it was real and tangible!

I also knew it wouldn’t always be easy. But then again…climbing rocks on the North Shore wasn’t easy either. My muscles were pushed, flexibility tried, and endurance tested by climbing and exploring. At times it was exhausting, painful, and took effort. But I didn’t give it a second thought because I wanted to do it! I wanted to climb, to search out hidden treasures in the crevices of the rocks and in the woods along the lake. I wanted to scale the highest peaks of the rock formations and walk to the edge with that slight bit of trepidation, looking over at the water crashing far below. I wanted to take the risk to see beauty where those who aren’t willing will never see it.

Turning away from the things of this world capturing our attention won’t be easy. But then again… experiencing the greatness of God isn’t always easy either. As we exercise our spiritual muscles, push on in faith we get stronger, more flexible, and our endurance knows no bounds. Sure…it can be exhausting, painful, and requires great effort but we won’t give it a second thought when we want to do it! When we want to scale the heights of faith, practice being in His presence, seek His face, study His Word, and walk to the edge of ourselves, we will see everything crashing beneath us. We’ll see beauty others won’t see just by our willingness to risk losing “us” by dying to ourselves!

The pain in my body was swallowed up by the experience, the soreness gone in a couple of days while the memories stayed! Likewise, all the pain we experience in this lifetime is swallowed up in the journey we take with God; all soreness goes as we learn life lessons which transform us to live in His presence! Walking in faith requires some effort but where there is faith in Jesus, there is peace, hope, serenity, and everlasting joy!

Wherever you are in life – risk it all to live for Jesus! You won’t be sorry!

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His Peace Will Accompany Us Through the Push!

I have two words from the Lord moving from Christmas 2011 into the New Year of 2012.  One concerns God’s peace!  This will be a season of discovering His peace at a new, deeper level, experiencing and living in it authentically, letting it rule our hearts for real, and setting us free from the many things in life we have let rule us. I have already written two blogs on God’s peace before knowing He wanted to emphasize this for 2012.  I hope you enjoy those and tune in for more in the coming weeks.

The second word He is speaking to me is about transition and push!  For years, the body of Christ has been in transition and many have been alerted to clocks and seeing the times, 11:11 and 1:11 way too often, understanding the number eleven to symbolize “transition”.   We have felt this transitioning for so many years our family and friends are at the point of smiling every time we hear or see the number eleven and someone remarks “What DOES that mean?”  It gets to the point we wonder if transition will ever end though the pressure and intensity would suggest it is soon.

Having given birth to several children I know the transition stage of birthing is supposed to be the shortest.  As I correlate natural childbirth to transitions in life and ministry, I have questioned God about our own “transition” along with the life of His Church saying things like “Seriously God!  We can’t STILL be in transition right? Transition doesn’t take years!  What gives?”

It’s not always WHAT we ask God but the WAY we ask it that gets us in trouble!  I didn’t go to Father God with an inquiring mind, I went with a “Come on God – enough already” mindset.  Fortunately, He knows my heart and I am truly willing to stay in transition as long as He wants but still, the question has come up many times over the years, “How long?”

Now, when I least expected it, He answered.  But first, He reminded me He doesn’t move by my time!  Whoops!  I’m sorry Lord!  That’s right!  He can take as long as He likes to transition us.  I was being ignorant of something most important with God.  And thankfully, ignorant doesn’t mean stupid.  It just means you don’t know or you are forgetting something very important2 Peter 3:8-9 “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  Other versions say do not be ignorant or do not forget the fact that God’s definition of time is different than ours.  But notice the term of endearment “Beloved”.  He wasn’t beating me over the head for letting this fact escape my notice, just reminding me.  And though this transition may have gone on for what seems forever for us, the Lord doesn’t count slow like we do.  So…thank You Lord for reminding me about time! 

Then He started speaking to me that transition is coming to an end.  Now this could cause some of us to shout “Hallelujah! Finally!” but we shouldn’t be too quick to celebrate the end of something because it also means the start of something else.  Sometimes we come through transitions in life and think it is time to settle down, take some deep breaths, relax a little, and thank God the intensity is over.  But No!  That’s not really what happens after getting through transition.   

In childbirth, transition is actually only the end of the FIRST stage of labor.  The intensity and pressure are at their peak but now the work really starts!  Spiritually speaking, I am hearing the year 2012 is a year of PUSHING! Now, I don’t know if it will be an entire year of pushing, if it starts right away in January, or if it is going to last more than a year. All I know is  we are moving into a time of pushing, having been in transition for a LONG time.

In the coming blogs I will be speaking on peace, transition, and pushing as Holy Spirit shows me more of what is coming for those who are seeking Him and wanting to know what is on His heart for His people. What exciting times we live in yes?

Stay tuned if you like!  I am excited to share what He is showing – I’m not so sure we will always be excited to walk it out – but in Christ nothing is impossible! 

 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Christmas, Uncategorized

 

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