Is Your Glass Full?

I attended a fitness training over the weekend. Our instructor used an illustration that has really left me thinking. She told us that as fitness instructors we have the opportunity to see ourselves as a glass that is full to the brim. Each class that we offer provides an opportunity for us to pour into the lives in that room and hopefully fill them up by the time class has ended.

What a fabulous approach to fitness instruction. What a fabulous approach to life in general! When you really break it down, it rings true on so many levels.

We must, first, be full ourselves. In other words, we must have something to give to those around us. So to be a full glass, we must let God tend to our souls. We can do this by seeking God’s truth for our lives in His Word, praying and simply spending time with our Father daily. It is from Him that we will receive hope, love, forgiveness, grace and oh so many blessings.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we should take care of our physical needs too. Eat balanced, nutritious meals, get a good night’s sleep and get moving daily through exercise.

So, now that our glass is full, we have the opportunity and calling to pour into those around us and fill them up with good things. God things. And inspire them to then go and do the same!

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19 NIV)

I encourage you to let God fill your glass full each day this week and then seek opportunities to pour Him into those around you. I am confident that there is enough of Him to go around. In fact, I have a feeling that we will find that when we approach life like this, our cups may truly runneth over!

Be joyful!

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13 NIV

Too Much Stuff…

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 MSG

I love clothes. I learned the art of retail therapy early from my mom. Still to this day, shopping is one of our favorite things to do together. Some might say that I have earned my degree in “Buyology”.

I recently bought my husband a couple pairs of shorts. He liked them so much that the logical thing to do was go back to the store and get him a pair in every color. Not to mention they were an extremely good deal, which made it sort of my duty folks.

If you look in my refrigerator or pantry, you will find both full of my family’s favorite foods and snacks. My daughter’s drawer in our pantry is quite the envy of her friends.

Please don’t judge me too harshly. God has been working on me in this area of my life. The verse above from Matthew truly resonates. How often do we store up wordly things in our lives in an attempt to get approval, feel better about ourselves or keep up with the perverbal Jones’? God tells us that these earthly treasures will never last. They may bring a temporary sense of satisfaction; but the feeling is fleeting at best.

When we seek to store up treasures in heaven, we experience a change of heart, lasting contentment and satisfaction. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33 KJV)

When we turn our attention to eternal matters and seek to do God’s will here on earth, everything changes. Our investments reflect Christ: serve the needy, love your enemies, take care of widows and children, cherish family, fight for the weak ones, listen intently to the voices around you and look into their sweet faces. See people. Simply stand in the gap.

And then you will see Christ at work all around you. Because where your treasure is there you will be.

Be joyful!

Old Love Songs…

I used an old Chicago love song for our cool down in Silver Sneakers exercise class yesterday. Chicago songs always bring back a flood of memories for me. I can remember watching my dad sing Chicago songs to my mother when he was battling cancer. I can also remember slow dancing for the first time with a boy at a friend’s birthday party to a Chicago song. Both of these events happened within a year of one another. It’s funny how music can take you back in time.

I have been thinking about this time of my life ever since class yesterday. As horrible as it was to have a front row seat to my own father’s losing battle with cancer, there were also such sweet memories that brought light, love and life to a dark, fearful time in my life.

Isn’t that how God’s grace works in our lives? He provides a hope and light when we feel like we are at the end of our rope. He brings that friend into our life that brings unexpected laughter when times get tough. And God shows true love to a young girl watching her parents sing and dance to Chicago while engaging in the battle of their lives. What a picture of hope He was providing for me.

You see, God will not leave you in darkness. He will not leave you in hopelessness. He will not leave you in grief. He will hold you. He will comfort you. And He will reveal His goodness in the toughest of times.

God will use old love songs to take you back in time and see just how far you have come. With Him. And He will remind you that He is with you, holding you and loving you in this time. No matter what tomorrow might bring.

Be joyful!

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 NIV

Depleted.

“Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling. Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling.” (O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship)

A sweet friend of mine asked me this week if I ever get tired or burned out. She shared that she was feeling completely overwhelmed by everything right now in her life: job responsibilites, parenthood, working out, errands, life in general. Her zest for life had vanished. I asked her how her spiritual life was going. More specifically, I asked her when was the last time she just spent some time with her Father. Her precious face told me the answer before her lips even spoke. She had let her focus shift from Jesus’ face. She was feeling depleted because she simply was depleted. She needed her Father.

“O come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.” (O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship)

Yes, I have experienced seasons of my life when I have felt completely overwhelmed, holding on to life by a thread. I have noticed that when these seasons hit, I am typically not plugging in to the power source. I am not spending time in God’s Word. I am not carving out time for prayer or devotion. I am not letting God rule in my heart, nor my life. I am completely task driven and have shifted my focus from Jesus’ face.

When my first husband called and said that he wanted a divorce, I was a shell of the woman God intended me to be. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually depleted. I had traveled on my own road for about ten years and had not cultivated my relationship with God. The results were astounding: 100 pounds of added body weight and probably twice that in emotional weight. Yet, amongst all that added weight was a spirit that was literally starving.

“Leave behind your regrets and mistakes, come today there’s no reason to wait. Jesus is calling.
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy, from the ashes a new life is born. Jesus is calling.” (O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship)

Where do you find yourself today? Tired? Depleted? Trying to simply survive yet another day? Jesus is calling. Turn to Him and let Him tend to your weary soul. Crawl up in your Father’s lap and let Him take the burdens of this life from you. You see, His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). I am living proof that no matter how far you wander, He can reach you, revive you, and restore you.

Be joyful and find rest!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NIV

Hands…

1-mother-and-daughter-holding-hands-lee-avison

A post came up on my Timehop app today from back in 2015. I was still driving my daughter to school at that time and she would have been in the 7th grade. That morning, she touched my hand and commented on how my veins stand out. I explained to her that is what happens when you get older. Your hands seem to always give away your age. She stroked the top of my hand again and said tenderly, “well mom, I like the way it looks.”

Interesting that my immediate thought was something negative about myself. In fact, my response back to her was obviously an attempt to lighten some harsh blow that was inevitably about to come from her observation. Yet instead, she was observing something that she noticed and liked about me, unprompted and uninhibited. I remember thinking that day about my own mother’s hands. I also have a fondness for her hands. I always liked the way her hands look. I wonder if my hands look like my mom’s hands? Then, I thought about the tender touch and comfort that can come from the loving hands of a mom. A mother’s hands wipe away tears, caress faces, gently rub and comfort burdened backs, and firmly grasp their children’s hands perfectly.

I also remember wishing that I could see myself through my daughter’s eyes that day or maybe even my mother’s eyes. Better yet, maybe I could see myself through my Father’s eyes each day, remembering fulfilled promises He has given me in both my own mom and daughter. Maybe this week, I will look around at the many hands around me. Who needs their hands held in prayer? Who needs a loving squeeze of reassurance? Who needs a hand to hold when the going gets tough? Who needs a meal prepared and delivered? Who needs a tear wiped from their cheek?

Father, help me be aware of opportunities to be Your Hands this week. Thank you for my mom, my daughter and these old hands made in your image. Help me use my hands wisely and boldly. And thank you for the hands that Jesus stretched out on the cross to save us all.

Be joyful!

“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.’” Luke 1:46-48 NIV

Cycling Class….

Image from Baby to Boomer Lifestyles

Thursday mornings are so much fun because I offer a Cycling class at the best gym in the world. Class preparation is pretty basic: show up early and get your bike; wheel it into place; make some adjustments to the seat and handle bars; strap in and get those legs moving. At this point, the lights are on in the studio; some are grumbling about sore, tired bodies; some are wiping the sleep from their eyes; caps are pulled down low; and most people are moving pretty slow.

But, something magical happens at 8:30 when the lights go off and the music cranks up. You can feel the mood of the room shift, heads down and focused, minds shifting to the task at hand, legs finding the cadence of the beat. About thirty minutes in, people are out of the saddle, sweat is pouring and mouths are grunting as we climb that second hill. You can feel the class riding together, catching their second wind, and giving it their best effort. And when that post-aerobic cool down comes and we find our way back to flat road, you can see the look of satisfaction at the determined effort. We conquered yet another mountain, together, victorious!

Each morning poses the same opportunity in life as my Thursday morning Cycling class. All we have to do is show up, drag ourselves out of bed and get ready for the task God has given us for the day. We need to put on the proper gear and wipe that sleep from our eyes. And the ride is so much smoother when we strap in and gear up with the power of His Word, minds in prayer and the shield of His love and protection surrounding us.

Before we know it, we are out of the saddle, pumping hard, surrounded by our fellow Warriors in Christ in this dark world, giving it our best effort because He is worth it. He is worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears we have to offer because Jesus offered His blood, sweat and tears for us first.

And before we know it, the angel chorus will explode and we will be greeted with the sweetest satisfaction in Him, knowing that we conquered this mountain called life together, victorious.

Ride hard today! And be joyful!

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6‭-‬8 NIV

Guacamole…

My daughter won a guacamole contest today for some extra credit in her Geometry class. Only in Texas would extra credit be given for bringing guacamole for a contest in Geometry. Needless to say, I have been basking in the light of our culinary win today. Who wouldn’t be, right? My daughter told me that her Geometry teacher shared the “winning” guacamole with other teachers and it was a smash hit! Sweet approval of our expertise with avocados. Praise you Jesus! Maybe I should open a guacamole shop. I am sure that folks will travel from far and wide to dip a chip in our winning guacamole, I can just see the line waiting outside for our guacamole shop to open each day.

It’s funny how success and approval can take you right out of a slump. It can put a little pep in your step, make you stand a little taller and give you a little more confidence. And before you know it, you have convinced yourself that you truly are the best, cue the music, “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

But, let’s get back to reality for just a second. Because right after receiving word about our winning guacamole, I tried on a bathing suit that I ordered and my confidence plummeted. That confident grin was replaced with a grimace and negative self talk. Surely guacamole played a role in the way that bathing suit looked on my body. The dreams of a guacamole store gone in a flash. I mean who would buy guacamole from me? Why did I have to taste so much of that winning recipe last night? I need to just stay away from chips and guacamole for the rest of my life.

You see, that is what happens when we allow the world to be our compass. Our emotions are based on the moment, ebbing and flowing with our wins, losses, thoughts or even that image in the mirror. And we know that often none of those things are even grounded in truth. The only defense we have against the world tossing us around, moment to moment, is to build our success and approval on the solid ground of who we are in Christ Jesus. Not a guacamole contest. Not a bathing suit. His Presence and Truth in our lives helps us take the wins and losses in stride. He allows us to have confidence because in having Him, we truly have it all. The final victory has been won and we are on the winning team!

Now somebody please cue the music, “U Can’t Touch This” and hand me some of that winning guacamole!

Be joyful!

“God, the one and only–I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, and Impregnable castle: I’m set free for life.” Psalm 62:1