Yes, this is supposed to be an uplifting blog focused with encouraging words and hope for pressing through this life while striving to bring God glory in all that we say and do. And I seriously hope that at the conclusion of this blog, you will be just that! Encouraged and uplifted!
So here she is! January. Dressed in her overtones of blue and grey, accessorized by geometric designs on round discs that are perched upon skinny retractable sticks, and with chunky people running around in yoga pants, pashmina’s and duck boots! What a sight!
We hide out in our homes because nothing we put on seems to fit anymore since Christmas! How did that happen?! We’ve had Christmas and now we have the drudgery of taking down the dead tree, throwing out the wilted Poinsettia’s, and cleaning up all of the decorations that we put out. It’s cold and rainy. Oh, and January is half over and we haven’t even begun to start our projects of “this year I’m gonna get organized!” What a let down! Procrastination has quietly and quickly sneaked in and taken a foothold! Secretly, we are already demotivated as we proclaim our “word for the year” and that brings on feelings of hypocrisy. Oh how we want to be so spiritual! Start the New Year right! But instead, we hang our heads in weakness, fatigue, and shame.
January 15th …Blue Monday, the pinnacle of depression or so says Social Media and other non-experts on the matter. But, no one needs to be an expert to identify January as the month that seems to drag us down. The weather is drab and dreary. The sun seems to have halted its energy-bringing rays into our lives and we haven’t the motivation to do much of anything!
Here’s the pseudoscientific formula created for identifying Blue Monday!
The formula takes into account factors like cold weather, shorter days, debt levels in January, the emotional letdown after the holidays, failing at resolutions, and lagging motivation levels.
Sound like something you might be a little too familiar with?
One blogger (author unknown) in the UK sums it up like this:
‘I see people who are exhausted – physically and emotionally drained and this exhaustion means that our stress response kicks in, and this drains us further. ‘This exhaustion leads to low mood and the January blues are born. ‘This is different to depression, its short-term exhaustion and by allowing yourself to rest, to rejuvenate, taking the pressure off and healing from the drama of the Christmas period you can often recharge yourself and lift your mood.
‘I believe that January is a time for reflection and rest. This does not mean make a load of resolutions that you are unlikely to follow through, it means rest!’
I must be honest here and tell you that I strongly dislike January! It’s a very difficult month for me for many reasons surrounding the past loss of loved ones and sheer exhaustion. I don’t think that I fall into the category of the population that experiences SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but I do believe that a lack of sunlight and physical weariness play a big part in it for me.
So how do we cope?
Maybe your soul is thirsty, like Kathy blogged about last week. Jesus can quench that thirst and provide the light that your soul needs. If you missed last week, be sure to go back and read it.
Perhaps you don’t feel dry, but just lacking…lacking in motivation, joy and laughter. You’re tired! Your brain is on overload with new beginnings and it’s the realization of all that needs to be done in January that is overwhelming and depressing you. It’s true that in our eyes, January is a time to begin again. But what we have forgotten was that with new beginnings, intentional prep work needed to take place. You can’t plant a beautiful garden without prepping first!
So here we are at the end of January. We were so busy with Thanksgiving, family, friends, gifting, Christmas programs, Christmas, and New Year's Eve festivities that we literally didn’t plan for January or it’s blues. Now it’s come and gone and we fall to our knees with feelings of anxiety, fear, and shame. Sure, we needed rest and we took a little break, but it’s not the rest that has landed us in the realm of January blues. It’s the lack thereof… of real rest!
Intentional, scheduled, disciplined, purposeful rest!
It takes a lot of prayer, energy, the Word, attitude adjustments, and sometimes a little help from a friend to help pull you from the mouth of the great Blue monster (and we thought he was red). You see, Satan likes for us to wear ourselves down because it is then that our guard is low and our mind becomes his playground. When I felt pretty low this week, I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit reminding me to put on the whole armor of God, starting with the helmet of salvation! As I sat on the sofa that morning with my coffee, the verse that matches my word for the year seemingly floated across the room and circled overhead.
Well, it’s still raining outside and my toes are cold, but my heart is warmed and refreshed by the faithfulness God ALWAYS provides for my soul and life! He can do the same for you if you ask.
So, the truth about January? Yeah, it's hard. God didn't promise skies would always be pretty blue, but He did promise that He'd see us through. And with that my friend, I find great hope and peace. As should you!
Resting in His Joy,
Need a perfect opportunity to help you climb out of your our own BLUES spiral? Attend a Restore Retreat! This will be our only overnight retreat for 2018. March 10-11 we will offer "Awaken to the Pursuit of the Bridegroom" with a Women Investing in Women twist. We want you to bring a special woman in your life (sister, daughter, mother, inlaw, aunt, niece, or friend) and together experience, as the Bride of Christ, the beauty and power of genuine bridal devotion from Jesus, our Bridegroom. Registration deadline is Thursday, February 22. We only have 12 rooms available! Reserve yours now!
January has traditionally been a difficult month for me. Something about the dreary, dark days affects my mood and energy levels. All the beautiful Christmas decorations come down and the house seems so bare. So this year I decided to grow some indoor hyacinth bulbs on my mantel. I had purchased a whimsical fur wreath before Christmas and a little jeweled bird and so I lined up hyacinth bulbs above the fireplace. They fill the room with the most wonderful scent and bring a smile to my face as I come down the stairs and see how they have grown in just a simple vase of water that I keep filled. The bulbs have stored up the nutrients and minerals necessary for them to grow. Each morning I turn the vases a little because the flowers will tip over trying to grow toward the morning light in the windows. They need light to become beautiful blooms.
As my cheery white bulbs in water greeted me this morning, I thought about how often the Lord will use simple lessons in nature to remind me of spiritual truths. The bulbs are flourishing with just a fresh supply of water and light each day. Jesus describes Himself as the Living Water in a proclamation that He made on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
“On the last and greatest day of the festival,
Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said,
rivers of living water will flow from within them.
” By this he meant the Spirit,
whom those who believed in him
were later to receive. Up to that time
the Spirit had not been given,
since Jesus had not yet been glorified."
John 7:37- 39 NIV
The invitation is open to all. “If anyone is thirsty come to me and drink.”
Each of us has a soul and that soul has a deep thirst. Our bodies need water to survive.
Our souls need the living water of God to survive.
John Piper says it this way in a sermon on this passage,
“This is the most important thing to know about yourself. You were made to live on God. You have a soul, a spirit.
There is a you that is more than a body. And that you, if it does not drink from the greatness and wisdom
and power and goodness and justice and holiness and love of God, will die of thirst.”
If we are going to truly follow Christ wherever He leads us in this New Year, we need more than head knowledge of who He is. We need more than the words of an inspiring sermon that another has studied to deliver. We need more than the words from a book by a great Christian author. The wisdom and inspirtation from the faith journeys of others can help to lead and guide us, but Jesus says, “Come to me and drink.” We need to personally drink of Jesus. It begins with the choice to believe in Him as Savior.
I believe that there is a great danger when we as believers limit our view of God to what we have experienced or fashioned Him to be in order to feel comfortable with our circumstances in life. This false portrayal of God is rampant in our culture and even in some of our churches. We as believers must purpose to delve into the wonder and mystery of who Jesus has revealed himself to be in Scripture and then respond to Him with all that we are.
In order to grow and flourish, like my bulbs, I need to let my roots reach deep into the water of a life of intimate devotion to the Savior. The same is true for you. When we choose to spend time for ourselves studying His words in the Scripture and drink from His water of life, the light of truth illuminates our hearts and then we spread the fragrance of Christ wherever we go. His life begins to define us in the choices that we make and the words that we speak.
Just yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about the power of our words. It is so true that our words will reflect what our minds and hearts have consumed. Words have the power to build up or tear down.
“…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
When you fill your heart and mind with Scripture, His truth and love will spill out of you. Our words, through the power of His Spirit at work within us, have the ability to restore, to heal, to inspire and to offer hope. As we seek to know our Lord more intimately, we learn to rest in Him and trust in His character. In that place of intimate devotion and study we learn that it is life in Him that sustains and guides us in the journey. Then, by the power His Spirit we reflect His beauty in this desperate world by the way we live and the words we speak.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11 NIV
Dallas Willard writes, “Spiritual growth and vitality stems from what we actually do with our lives, from the habits we form and from the character results.”
When you come each day to the Word, Jesus spreads before you a banquet, a feast of life to nourish your soul.
When you come to Christ to satisfy the thirst of your soul, you receive the gift of His Spirit living in you.
There in His fullness and by the mystery of His grace, you become like that well-watered garden - even in the cold days of winter. His spring of water, the risen, living Spirit of Jesus will never fail you.
For you see the source of life for your garden is Jesus in you.
Maybe you are already feeling a little discouraged in this new year. That list of goals and resolutions seems overwhelming, like too much to achieve. Or perhaps like so many I know, you are already weary from a winter illness that has drained your strength and energy. God is faithful and compassionate. He longs to refresh our spirits with the truth found in the Scriptures. But, we must make the choice to let the life giving water of His Word wash over us.
I have made My light to shine in your heart to give you the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Christ. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as a child of light.
Beloved, if you are willing, I will flood your soul with My Spirit and life. Will you choose to let Me possess your whole being so utterly that your life will display the radiance of My Son?
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise Your Father in heaven.
I have come to offer you living water so that you will never be thirsty again. Trust in Me and don’t be afraid.
I am the Lord, your strength and your song. Draw from the well of My salvation with joy!
(paraphrased from Mt. 5:16, John 8:12, Eph. 5:8, 2 Cor. 4:6, John 4: 10, Is. 12:30)
I’m encouraged that each day is a new day, full of choices and opportunities.
Won’t you join me today and make the choice to drink freely from the water of life, Jesus.
I'm so grateful for the simple faith lessons I was reminded of this morning from my little hyacinth bulbs -
Feed on the water of the Word, turn toward His light
and watch your life bloom with the fragrance and beauty of Christ!
You have been created with a soul thirst that can only be satisfied in Jesus.
So drink of Him!
Please join us for our March Retreat!
Scholarships are available. Please don't let financial need stop you from
participating in this wonderful retreat with a special woman in your life.
We invite you to come enjoy the beautiful grounds of Solomon Conference Center.
Your heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus, wants to satisfy your thirsty soul.
Spend quiet time letting the water of God's Word wash over you and be encouraged through powerful worship, teaching, prayer and fun fellowship with other women.
Don't miss this great opportunity to explore the Scriptures and grow in your spiritual journey as one of His Beloved.
We only have twelve rooms available so register today!
Resources: desiringgod.org - Out of your heart will flow Rivers of Living Water, Living Water by Kathy Drake, The Spirit of Disciplines by Dallas Willard, Pinterest photos
Sometimes pictures are worth more than words! I'm guessing that means that pictures with audio/video is better!
Be sure to view this blog from your browser by clicking the title. Viewing straight from some phones eliminates the content!
We wanted to make sure that you know of our upcoming Restore Retreat for women. Our focus for this retreat is "Women Investing in Women" with the theme of Awaken to the Pursuit of the Bridegroom. We encourage you to come and bring another woman to retreat with us, age 16 and older please. There are only 12 rooms available for this retreat!
You won't want to miss out on this teaching, worship, fellowship, and quiet times at this beautiful conference center. God has been faithful to minister to the hearts of participants who seek to know Him more intimately. He pursues YOU even now! Won't you join Him? and us!
Feeling a little timid to retreat?
Don't like retreats?
Or, don't have time to retreat?
You will not be disappointed! God is faithful!
This is not your typical type of "retreat!" We offer women plenty of time to rest and be restored by the Holy Spirit. The retreat grounds are beautifully designed with places around the lake for you to take in nature and quiten your hurried soul. Our teaching sessions are scripturally based and take us deeper into His word as we explore topics of Divine Passion, Our Position, and His Purpose. If you are the type of person who really doesn't like to be alone, no worries there either. A creative arts time of fellowship on Saturday night always brings lots of laughter and fun! For pictures of our September retreat, click the button at the end of this blog. Be sure to bring someone with you and let's retreat from this hurried world!!!
Kathy & Sherry
Scholarships are available. Contact us directly for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are praying for you even now and hoping you will realize the pursuing nature of God in your life.
Restore Ministries is a 501c3 non-profit ministry. All donations are tax deductible.
So it’s a new year. How are you feeling about that? Maybe you’re ready to embrace it? Your Christmas decorations are neatly put away. You’ve set your goals. You’ve chosen your word for the year and even cleaned out a closet! That would not be me. I’m sitting here looking at my tree and the lights for the last time. Today is my day to start taking it all down - those decorations I didn’t get put up until the week before Christmas. I’m missing my children and grand babies who have gone back home after a ten day visit. I’m still recovering a bit from all the cooking and flurry of activity that comes from a house full with a three year old active girl, an eight month old baby girl who has just learned to crawl, two daughters, a son and law, two dogs, and all the other extended family and friends who have come in and out of our home for feasts and festivities over the last few weeks. Here are just a couple of my favorite pictures with the grand babies. My sweet son-in- law Spencer caught these precious moments on camera. I"m so grateful!
Hmmm.....It's too hard to pick just two! After a difficult year, God blessed us with so much joy this holiday season.Here's a glimpse into some of our family celebrations and traditions.
I'm so grateful for the sweet memories this Christmas. But now my thoughts have begun to move into the new year with all of its hopes and dreams. Several friends have come over this week for visits and a cup of tea to share about our holidays and pray about the future. As I’ve adjusted to our sudden “very” quiet home this week, I’ve been asking the Lord to give me a vision for the new year. I just keep sensing in my spirit - “keep it simple."
What is the discipline of simplicity really? It is keeping your focus on Jesus. Devotion to His Word, His ways, His heart for you, and His agenda. It is so easy to get caught up in all the New Years hoopla. All the TV programs and media are talking about goals for good health, living successfully, intentionally, setting realistic goals for the coming year. Those are all good things. but you can get overwhelmed trying to get it all right.
I just want to keep it simple. I want to be in the center of the plans that Jesus has for me and the truth is that is a day to day journey. I don’t know what the future holds. But I know the One who does. If I've learned anything from the trials with my health and personal loss last year it is that Jesus can be trusted to carry me through whatever I face. My plans can be quickly overturned in a routine doctors visit or a devastating phone call from a friend.
When your life is anchored in the discipline of simplicity, your character and life find their greatest delight in Jesus and because of that you can become a delight to the world. I want to put His beauty and character on display this year.
I can only do that when I choose the discipline of simplicity.
Simplicity is not about a rigid set of rules and it is a lot more than cleaning out the clutter! It is about our choices.
It's about our focus - “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1,2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him
endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1,2 NIV
Living in simplicity is about depending on His transforming power to renew our minds and discover His perfect will. It's about not conforming to the ways of this world. Simplicity is a paradox because it is both a gift of grace and a discipline of faith. We have the power to choose or not.
What we do does not give us simplicity, but it does put us in a place where we can receive it.
In His ministry and life on earth Jesus sometimes said "no". Although His life was a display of God's love, mercy and healing grace, He didn't heal everyone. He didn't respond to every demand of the crowd. He had twelve disciples. Often he called them away from the urgency of the masses to spend time in prayer and in relationship with the Father and personal discipleship.
With God's help we need to set boundaries. We need to learn our emotional and physical limits. Saying no to what you don't need gives you the freedom to say yes to what God created you to do and who he created you to be. Learning what those boundaries and limits are is best found when we choose to quiet our spirits in the disciplines of prayer, silence and solitude. There in that place, God works and develops our character in order for us to bring His perspective back into our interaction with those He places in our lives. The world we live in is desperately fallen and set against God’s truth and ways. We must stay grounded in HIs Word, renewing our minds with truth that gives life.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1,2 NIV
And so this new year I’m asking the Father to captivate my heart. I want to learn more of what it means to live a life that is simply devoted to Him. I hope to lay my calendar and agenda at His feet each day in prayer, letting Him order my days. I will purpose not to fill my schedule so full with “my” plans that there is no room for the unexpected, the spontaneous, the gift of His surprise and wonder in my life. It may come through a knock at the door as it did yesterday from an old friend who came by with a container of soup. I almost just thanked her with a hug, but instead I asked her to stay and received the gift of an unexpected hour of listening and learning from the wisdom of her servant heart. My day was packed full of several appointments and preparing dinner for company that evening, but I watched the Lord show me that He would redeem the time if I would make room for His unexpected “visits”.
And so, for those of you who like to make those “lists” as I sometimes do. Make them covered in prayer and hold them loosely so that you don’t miss the movement of His Spirit and plans for your life each day.
Choose the simplicity of a life of devotion to Jesus.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1-2 NIV
Jesus wants to meet us in our everyday moments and in the big dreams and goals of our hearts in 2018. It all begins with a deep thirst within each of our souls that only He can quench. But we must choose to keep our eyes, hearts, and minds focused on Jesus. There in that place of devotion and simplicity, Jesus, the greatest giver of gifts, will quench that thirst and order our days according to His perfect and beautiful plan!
Choosing the gift of simplicity,
As you pray about how to keep your focus on Jesus this year and live simply for Him, we hope that you will consider joining us for our Restore Retreat March 10 and 11 - “Awaken to the Pursuit of the Bridegroom.” Jesus is pursuing you as the beloved Bride of Christ. In this retreat you will discover more of what that really means as we delve into the depths of Scripture and the theme of Bridehood throughout the Old and New Testaments. We will also study the significance of ancient Jewish wedding customs in Scripture and how they relate to the teachings and heart of Jesus for you as His Bride. The Bride is devoted to her Groom. Her eyes are fixed on Him.
This retreat we have chosen our focus for participants to be “Women Investing in Women.” So pray about whom you might invite to join you in our 2018 retreat! We are praying that mothers/daughters, daughters in law, grandmothers/granddaughters, sisters, aunts/nieces, mentors/mentees, or soul mate friends will choose to come together and draw near to Jesus as the lover of your souls. The suggested minimum age for participants is 16.
Please Come, Be Still”, soak in His presence, bathe your spirit in His words of truth and let the music of healing worship wash over you as draw you near to your Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Learn together with another woman whom God has chosen to be a part of your life about our position as His Bride, Divine Passion and His purpose for us, His Beloved!
As women investing in one another in 2018, let us awaken to the pursuit of the heavenly Bridegroom!
We only have twelve rooms available and registration is now open.
This will be our last offering of this retreat teaching for awhile.
Where: Solomon Conference Center, Loranger, LA
Cost: $192 per person ~ Covers lodging, 3 meals, & supplies
Time: 9:30am, Saturday, March 10 - noon, March 11, 2018
Registration Deadline: February 22, 2018
If you cannot attend, perhaps you would prayerfully consider investing in the faith journey of another woman through a financial gift to Melissa’s memorial fund. All funds are used to scholarship those who would not be able to attend a restore retreat or event without financial assistance.
Restore Ministries is also available to come to your church or study group as retreat or conference speakers and worship leaders or to assist in special women's events. Click the "Contact" button below to send us an email if interested.
Click the "Topics" link below for teaching topics ready to offer at your special event!
Resources: Scripture photo Pinterest
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