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On My Heart

Thoughts on marriage, family, and life, with a focus on what counts forever.

Above the Commotion

It’s funny how we can live near someone and not really know the full sweetness of friendship until we are far away.  It was that way with my friend Stephanie.  Her dad is a pastor whom our family greatly respects, and he still challenges us with His passion for scripture and its application in our daily life.  But it wasn’t until our family moved to another state that our friendship really blossomed, and I count Stephanie as one of my heart-friends.  So when she wrote these thoughts for you, friend… I couldn’t wait to share them with you.  They speak so much to a struggle we all have, if we’re honest.  They call each of us to rise above the commotion of everyday life… for something so much more.

From Stephanie:

We are selective by nature. Facebook friends with irrelevant or bothersome posts get unfollowed. The especially appealing images are re-pinned on Pinterest. Magazines are purchased based on a headline’s promise. We innately filter life and choose what we spend our time on. This is good.

We are always looking for the best information, funniest videos, most insightful articles— discoveries meant to increase our happiness or improve how we experience each day. The search is legitimate, the longing innate, but the sources we look to for fulfillment are insufficient.

I keep up on Instagram, check out new books from the library, and seize quality “me” time at a coffee shop— often looking to those things as a source of fulfillment.

But no matter how desperately I try to extract balm for my battered emotions and nourishment for my weakened spirit, those sources are insufficient to heal.

 

Jeremiah 2:13 describes how the people of Israel made the same attempt and failed: “They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.” I hadn’t realized it before, but I am an expert at digging broken cisterns.

 

 

You are probably familiar with the saying, “Not everything that glitters is gold.” In this day and age there is a lot glittering. There are so many cisterns holding out the promise of living water. We expectantly approach, desperately thirsty, and we depart devastatingly unquenched. If we want to address our spiritual dehydration, we must look to a different source. It isn’t modern, it doesn’t have a subscribe button, it’s not “pinable” and it won’t go live on Facebook. It’s a daily, genuine relationship with the Creator of your heart, the Savior of your soul, the King of the universe. His words for you are alive and accessible in the simple, unadorned, un-hashtagged Holy Bible, and “They are more desirable than gold—than an abundance of pure gold” (Psalm 19:10). His words alone will truly satisfy our thirst.

 

In Proverbs we receive the instruction: “My son, be attentive to my words…For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh” (4:20, 22). The healing, life-giving words Solomon is drawing our attention to are ultimately the supreme words of scripture. We must be attentive. We must be watchful, critical, discerning.

 

The source of ultimate joy, deep satisfaction and renewal is hiding in plain sight, we are often just too distracted to see it.

 

Amidst the chaos of other voices clamoring for your attention, “Wisdom calls out in the street; she raises her voice in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion” (Proverbs 1:20, 21).

 

Picture the last ridiculously loud situation you were in. Concert? Sports game? Bar? Driving while one kid has a meltdown that could shatter glass, the other kid conveying their desperate need for a cracker? Think about the concentration required to hear what someone is saying to you over all of that noise. For a moment, somehow, your brain manages to tune everything else out, your eyes lock on their lips as they form the words. You carefully take note of their gestures to interpret what they are communicating and without even knowing it, you lean in. That is the kind of focus needed to filter out the commotion of distractions in this world and take hold of the life-giving words of Christ. They are there, amazingly, ironically free and worth more than everything else this world can offer.

 

 

 

I’m so tired of leaky cisterns. I’m irritated by a dissatisfaction in things that were supposed to be rewarding. In a world of movement and temporality, of trends and innovation, I am chronically attention-deficit. The void in my heart aches and longs for undistracted, uncontested time with the One who satisfies. I want to filter out more of the trivial, the secular, the empty; I want to be attentive to His life-giving voice. His call is steadfast, and though we are not, the way remains open. “Therefore…let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 HCSB).

 

Visit Stephanie at Read, Cook, Devour to see what else she’s sharing.

 

{Thank you, Stephanie, for challenge and encouragement!}

 

Feeding our Hungry Souls (Spiritual Nourishment)

I think a lot about hunger – both physical and spiritual hunger.  I love food: the making of it, the sensory experience of food, photographing it, smelling it, and eating it.  I love to share food with others and teach them how to to make what I can, or learn from them about new things to create.  I’m amazed at how many parallels there are between physical food and spiritual food, and as much as I love a good meal, spiritual nourishment is far more important to me.

 

I realize that I often settle, in the physical realm, for food that’s temporarily satisfying, but in the end, leaves me hungry.  As a mom of littles, I’d fly by the counter and grab the crust and crumbs of my kids’ leftover sandwiches and then wonder why I was “starving” at 4 in the afternoon.  In the same way, I often graze on spiritual “fast food,” and then wonder why I’m impatient, lacking in wisdom, tempted to speak unkindly of someone, easily afraid, or any number of other kinds of immature.  I wonder, when I try to get by on spiritual crumbs, why my heart is hungry.

 

 

I shared this thought at Sal et Lux last week, and I’ve been chewing (rather, more accurately, stewing) on it ever since.  I am personally challenged as I think about this statement, because I realize so often both physically and spiritually, I’m tempted to be satisfied with crumbs.  Or worse, I’ll settle, in a pinch, for physical or spiritual fast-food, that doesn’t just leave me unsatisfied; it endangers me, body and soul.

 

Spiritual fast food, like the drive through stuff with which we sometimes feed our faces, is dangerous, because it gives us a false sense of nourishment.

 

What is spiritual fast food?  I believe it’s the little nuggets of half-truths, feel-good-statements, and snippets of scripture, even, that make us temporarily feel good about ourselves and our spirituality, but don’t actually nourish us with a complete “meal” of truth, as defined by the whole of the Bible.  It might be the pretty quote (even scripture) that I “like” on Instagram, or the podcast I listened to by an inspirational speaker.  Maybe it’s even the short devotional writing I read on my phone or in the book I keep in the guest bathroom.  (Do you do this, too?!)  Spiritual fast food is like a treat for my heart.  It’s often a good thing, but it’s not the best thing.  It’s more like a snack, and less like a filling meal.

 

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There’s a trend going around in women’s circles that I think of as “spiritual fast food.”  We find little devotional books that claim to put all we need to know in little bite-sized pieces, easily digested in just a few short minutes, or we watch snippets on social media, and think we’ve filled our spiritual selves.

Does that mean it’s wrong to read a short devotional or listen to an encouraging song about God or life?  To read a feel-good book or watch a show that lifts our spirits?  No.   I’m also not heaping guilt on you if you’re a busy mama or caring for an elderly parent, working two jobs or serving others with your time.  I’m a mom of five, and I’ve worked at least part-time while raising our home-educated kids… and I’m a serial creator-of-stuff-and-stuffer-of-schedule, so I know what it feels like to be rushed… to ever feel the weight of busy.  I also remember well what it was like to be in a season of babies and toddlers who were up before the birds (I promise it settles, mama-friend – just in time for them to want to stay up till hours talking, if we’re fortunate 😉 ).  Sometimes we have to settle for “snacks” in a short season, because it’s genuinely all we can get.

It’s awesome to follow an account on social media that challenges and encourages, (Gracelaced on instagram makes my heart happy, and I have tons of other inspiring social media accounts that grab my attention!)  and we know from Paul’s teaching that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). But we have to be careful that these little treats don’t become our full diet.

I am a chocolate girl.  I’ll go anywhere for good dark chocolate, and if it’s laced with espresso or crunchy cacao nibs, I’m all the happier.

But no matter how healthy, or raw, or naturally sweetened I find or make my chocolate, if it’s all I eat, day in and day out, I’m in trouble.  

I’m going to soon be nutritionally lacking or packing on the pounds, and I won’t have helped myself be well nourished.  I’ve got to eat a variety of foods that have good fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.

 

In the same way, I have to feed myself spiritual meat, by “eating” God’s word.

 

Again, I’m in NO way wanting to heap guilt on you if you are genuinely in a season where your primary ministry (your husband and children, if you have them) means you have to be creative about learning from God what He wants to teach you.  I am not trying to burden you that you have to carve out hours each day to read your Bible, else you’ll be spiritually emaciated.

 

I do want to encourage you, though, to make that “meat” a priority, even over “good things” like devotional books and uplifting Christian podcasts.  I want to challenge you, friend, to be intentional about eatting good food, spiritually speaking.  That means reading the Bible, itself, as often as you can.  Try to read whole chunks (full chapters and books), so that you can put the text and message in context.  Be intentional about understanding and applying the Bible to how you live.

 

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I’ve created a printable to encourage you as you make a point to grow deep.  Print it out, tape it into your journal or pin it to your inspiration board, and be encouraged as you make spiritual nourishment a priority. Grab it using the quick form below!

 

 

If you’d like a couple more resources, here are some good ones, with thoughts on more in-depth Bible study:

Awesome resource for inductive Bible study

This post has a powerful question to ask when you read the Bible (because it’s all about knowing Him better…)

As an easily distracted girl, I enjoyed this encouraging post.

 

How is God challenging you to eat “good food,” spiritually speaking?  Do you have tips for how to dig in deeper?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Much love, friend.

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Five Essentials Steps for Real Life Change (Guest Post)

If you follow me on Facebook, hopefully you were able to join in Winter: A Journey of Stillness.  Together, we took ten days to start the new year by quieting our hearts and listening for what God had to say to us about our new year.  You may have felt a prompt to make some life changes, and if so, my friend Elisa’s thoughts for us today will be right on point.

Five Essentials Steps for Real Life Change (Guest Post by Elisa Pulliam)

 Do you know what the secret is to experiencing real life change?

Oh, yes, there’s a secret. It’s not a magic pill. Nor is it something that you should hire someone to accomplish for you, although that would be ideal. It’s not even something that you can demand of God, although submitting to Him will make the process a whole lot easier.

The secret to real life change begins with the “ah-ha.”

What’s an “ah-ha”?

As I learned through my life coaching training, and have come to see time and time again in my own life along with working with clients, the secret to real life change happens when we we reach the magical “ah-ha” moment. It’s in that moment when we discover the heart of the issue and our part in it, with a desire to own the next steps. That’s because most of what we perceive as a dead-end, stuck-in-a-rut reality is not as hopeless at we think it is. We can change our approach. We can embrace a new mindset.

 

While we may not be able to “heal thyself”, we can certainly choose an attitude that lines up with a eternal perspective as we move through treatment.

We might not be able to change others’ behavior, which is causing havoc on our personal life, but we can choose a response that reflects the heart of Christ and the truth of Scripture.

We might not be able to erase the past, however we can move towards seeking God to heal our wounds and give us a new way of thinking that is in line with His Word.

 

See, the real life change we crave is often a matter of embracing a biblical mindset over focusing on our circumstances — that’s because most of our circumstances are out of our control.

 

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While there are limits in what we can do to change the circumstances of our lives, there’s nothing stopping us from inviting God to change our character and countenance as He accomplishes His purposes in us and through us.

 

It’s a process of real life change that starts with harnessing the “ah-ha” moment momentum and then moving forward practically and purposefully in what I call the 5 Essential Steps for Real Life Change:

 

  1. Identify What Was and What Is: Clearly articulate the circumstances, mindset, and habits that need to be changed, even pinpointing how it all came to be, along with the “ah-ha” moment that invites real life change. Write it down as a reminder in the future.
  2. Count the Cost: Prayerfully consider what the cost is to not move forward in real life change. Consider what will happen if you stay “as is” compared to take the sometimes uncomfortable and scary steps forward.

  3. Own the Obstacles: Consider the obstacles that made change impossible in the past and may make it challenging in moving forward. Own your sin and be honest about temptations, as you make choices about what to do differently.
  4. Prepare to Persevere: Brainstorm ways to seek help and accountability for moving forward. Set a goal date or a “check-in” date to have a finish line, or lap marker, to press on towards.

  5. Take Action with Accountability: Share your desires to change with someone who is willing and able to support you in prayer and through asking honest, grace-filled questions. A life coach can serve you this way, most definitely, but so should a friend or a spouse.

 

 

God’s sustaining, transforming power is available to you, my friend. He’s just waiting for you to say “yes” to His sanctifying, abundant life-giving invitation.

Would you like practical and biblical encouragement in the process of real life change? Consider Meet the New You and the companion online course, Infuse: A Soul-Strengthening, Life-Changing Encounter with God.

 

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Elisa Pulliam is a life coach, coach trainer, author of Meet the New You, speaker, and life-long mentor passionate about seeing women experience authentic life transformation for the sake of impacting the next generation. Her mission as owner of the Kaleo Agency, a life coaching and leadership development company, and as founder of moretobe.com, a ministry passionate about training and equipping women to mentor, is fueled by God’s redeeming work in her life and twenty-plus years in youth and women’s ministry. She counts it a privilege to connect with other women online and in real life, and strives toward savoring each moment with her husband of 20 years, Stephen, and with their four tween and teenage children.