Stumbling Along in Following God {when seasons shift}

Are you having some trouble following God’s will right now?

Dutch Sheets, one of my all-time-favorite Bible teachers said, “I find that I stumble into the will of God more times than I find it on purpose.” That helps me a lot for when I have trouble knowing God’s will, I can still be confident that He will get me where I need to be even if I stumble into it.

Many of you are feeling an uncomfortable shift in your life this year. It’s OK. It’s God getting your course corrected. So if you wake up most mornings wondering if you’re still in your right mind or feeling out of sorts, just keep leaning on Him. He can get you right where you need to be. (Learn to be aware of His presence with you. Pray honest prayers. Read your Bible. Listen for His subtle leading.)  

woman thinkingYou may be in a physical shift from one job to another. This may be a mental shift as your thinking is changed in an area. But this is definitely a spiritual shift. (Remember, everything is spiritual because you first are spiritual!) Everything is about getting you in a better, more blessed, more free place looking more like His Son. 

How do you handle it? Let yourself be keenly aware of how much you need God’s help and direction. (That means you don’t know everything you need to know.) The challenges you face are far too great to handle alone. To walk with God in humble dependence is the most strong, blessed, and protected place you can be! Practice resting your mind, will, and emotions, and let Him “train you in trust” while you wait.

How long will it last? That is between you and God. Your shift and season may be similar to another, but will be uniquely different from anyone else. This is about you and God, so let it be… about you and God.

Why is it so hard to submit and follow? Because we think we know best! We think we know what our life should look like and be like, but without God our life will never have the meaning and outcome He has in mind. We want God’s best, but we usually don’t want the trials, work, introspection, change, and personal growth that goes along with it.

Comparing yourself to others is a dead end. There are many famous TV pastors or authors with followers who say, “I want to do what you do!” They  see the glory in it and may want to do it, but do they realize the price that’s been paid to get there? Jesus faced a similar question from Peter in John 13:37 who boldly proclaimed, “Lord, I am willing to lay down my life for you!” To which Jesus responded, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, I say to you, a rooster shall not crow until you deny me three times. Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in Me.”  (John 13:37-14:1)

We think we are strong enough. We think we are ready. But our Father knows our hearts and what we need next. He is faithful to lead us through preparation, shifts, and changes that are right for us individually. While many are not easy or comfortable, and some are downright hard, hang on for He’s not finished yet and neither your past nor your present gets the last word!

Listen – I understand. In my life, I’ve experienced many shifts and literal moves that seemed crazy at the time, but looking in that wonderful rearview mirror it’s easy to see how the Lord was faithful in every step.

For today, can we just say something honest like this? “Lord, help me, I’m an unblended mess. This is hard, but I am willing to be made willing to take the next step with You. Give me a desire for what pleases Your heart. Protect me and strengthen me for what is to come.”

You’re going to do alright. You are unconditionally and greatly loved. You are held in very strong hands. So get still and listen.  Practice resting your mind, will, and emotions, woman, walk, road, directionand let Him “train you in trust” while you wait. 

When this shift is over, you will stand in a new place. A place that maybe you weren’t expecting, but a place where you know with more certainty than ever that the Father’s eyes are upon you and His hand is guiding you. You are living a journey to remember. 

Lots of love & grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window where the robins are resting in the yard, taking all they need, and then taking flight!!

Want to find out more about how Spiritual Life Coaching can help you go forward? Email me at robinlewiswords@gmail.com. No one has to do life alone.

 

The Weight of Chronic Overthinking {How to be Free}

how-to-tell-when-youre-overthinking

Chronic. I have been a chronic over-thinker. And I can still fall into it at times. It. feels. awful. And yet, we do it because we don’t know what “might” happen.

The “what if’s” come like rapid fire gun shots at our thoughts and we scramble like soldiers for a bunker of mental safety, strategizing a plan to make sure everything turns out alright.

Like we think we are that powerful. Newsflash: WE ARE NOT THAT POWERFUL.

As Christians, we talk about our faith walk, and then worry about what could be around the next corner. We are listening to the wrong voices. We are believing the wrong things.

In fact, the only way to grow our faith is to NOT KNOW and still lean hard with all the weight of our concerns upon God. We are to “cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us.”

We are not to cast it like a fishing lure, then reel it back in. We’re to throw it out like the garbage and trust that God is going to be God.

I was telling a new friend yesterday that sometimes when life circumstances seem way too big, we just need to walk outside and look up at that really big sky and remember that our Heavenly Father made that sky…with His words! And that His hands hold it and us together.

So when you catch yourself with the “what if” or the “I’ve got to do something about this” thoughts, walk outside and throw it all at the Lord who is so very big. Then come back in, make a nice cuppa tea, and ask for His help. He promises to give it.

  • Reflection time: If you have the habit of reflecting over the day or over your life at the end of the day, look for ways you lived well, give thanks, and rest easy knowing you’re a process.
  • Maxwell’s Law of the Mirror: You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself. Give yourself a check up in your “self talk” and “self behavior” where they relate to stress, criticism, comparison to others, and how you use your mental time.
  • It’s impossible to worry and trust God at the same time. To shift it to trust, control your thoughts (yes this is possible), and choose to focus on giving thanks. Gratitude trips worry and over-thinking every time, making it fall on it’s ugly little face.

Trusting Him feels so very good and is the way to living free!

Grace & Peace,
Robin

From the desk by the window, realizing my smallness and God bigness, and feeling pretty good about that.

2016-01-05 16.50.00

Ever wondered if Life Coaching is for you? I work with women ages 16 and up, up, up who feel stuck, going through something hard, or wanting to change their life and don’t know where to begin. Let’s meet for coffee and talk about it! Email or call me – robinlewiswords@gmail.com or (843) 319-5390.

Hey! For some great FREE coaching tools I use with every client, shoot me an email and I’ll send them right over!

ask, think, imagine, ephesians 3 20

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, 2015

 

The Manger Song

music notes 3 heartI’m feeling sentimental as usual for this time of year, and remembering when I was blessed to serve as Preschool & Children’s Minister at Oaklawn Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC from 1995 to 2003. For those 8 years, I learned much – including how to really serve, love, and lead a team. The children, who included my own, were dubbed the Little Oaks. There were a few tears from time to time, but much laughter and joy there. Christmas was always special mostly due to our Director of Music, Dan Suttles, who’s gifted, perfectionistic ideas brought about incredible musical dramas that  surprised the hearts of everyone in attendance.

One year, a little song came and surprised me which I called ‘The Manger Song’ and so I sang it for the Little Oaks Children’s Lesson in December 1999. I thought I’d share it with you this Christmas. It’s a lullaby for that Baby and all our little ones.

~The baby, the stable, the first Christmas morn

Saw Mary and Joseph, the King had been born!

Shepherds and sheep come to worship Him,

And angels sang over Bethlehem.

~A cow lows, a babe cries and breaks the night.

Above all a bright star shines its light.

And God smiles to see Jesus lying there,

The promised Messiah, God’s love to share.

~A family, a manger filled with hay,

A baby in soft cloths was gently laid.

May your heart be open this Christmas morn,

And be like a manger where Jesus is born.

manger scene

Just as in the beginning, God’s light broke into our darkness, our wounded world, our helpless mess, and came to make a way out. This Light shines His love-light into our broken hearts, minds, and bodies. “The Light of the world is Jesus!”, goes the old hymn, and it’s true! That’s Christmas – that the Light came and shone into our darkness, folding Himself into the skin of a baby to come to us. He knows vulnerability, what it’s like to walk this earth. The Unbroken came for the broken and offers His own hand. Christianity is the only faith where the God worshiped comes for us, where the tomb is empty, and the invitation to take His hand is always there.

And this Light? Nothing stops it, for light goes everywhere it can. And every time we let in more Light, we are more healed. So accept this little blog as an invitation to allow that Light to enter your life, soft and warm, heart-changing, and filled with all the acceptance, grace, strength, and peace you will ever need.

For God so loved this messy old world and all the broken people in it, that He sent His only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in Him will never perish, but will have everlasting, unending life with Him. He did not come to point His finger and condemn us, but to put in place His own rescue mission so we can be called the children of God.

Merry Christmas, friends. Christmas Light to you!

Much love,

Robin

From the desk by the window near the Nativity, where I imagine I can hear Mary’s soft voice singing thanks to God.

music notes 1

*This is my Nativity of collected pieces that my daughters, Rebecca and Rachel, and I assembled over several years. It’s the first thing out of the box every Christmas, and the last thing to be put away at New Years. I’ve placed a cross in the background that was hand-made for me by my friend, John Mitchell of Scotland. For even in that birthing moment, the Father knew what it would cost to redeem all of us. And He says you and I were worth it. Happy Christ-mas, all!

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, December 15, 2015

When Fear Erodes Our Power, Love, & Sound Mind {and what to do about it}

When we learn of hard things happening in the lives of those we care about, it can grab the heart and we can easily react in fear and anger. We don’t want those we love to suffer, and the enemy certainly uses our weaknesses, fears, and doubts against us.  Those emotions allowed to run can build up walls of “fear material” that God’s voice cannot penetrate. When we fear, we have moved away from God. Fear erodes faith and peace like battery acid on a Saltine Cracker.

Worry is always fueled by fear and is a block to hearing the Father’s voice. And let’s be honest – when we worry, we are not trusting God. In fact, we can’t even see or hear God when we move into worry. He is not in the equation at all when my thoughts are focused on what I fear. As long as I have my eyes focused on fear, I am unable to receive His comfort or guidance.

fear 2 tim 1 7The negative emotions can even move me to pray, but fueled by fears, we can “pray without ceasing” without listening! “Lord, what can I say? What can I do to help? They are off balance and falling! How can I help, protect, or provide? Father God, what are you doing? Do you see?” When we finally land in a place of feeling  powerless and helpless, we are where we need to be in order to let go of it all and trust God to work.

Fear and worry should remind me how small I am with an immediate turning to the Father, but if my focus is on anything other than Him, then those emotions and the “what if…” questions grow larger than life. When I think I can jump in and rescue or change another life, I can feel pretty powerful. I can think I have the answer someone needs. But I really do not. How can I when fear is the motivator?

2 Timothy 1:7 is one of my favorite verses because it shows both sides of the coin:

For God has not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.

Let’s face it, when fear is the ruling power in my life, I have none of that “power, love and sound mind” stuff. Quite the contrary! When any of us are focused on our fears, they consume us, swallowing us whole! Let’s clarify an important point: God isn’t mad at me when I am afraid. God just wants me to come to Him because He sees it all clearly.

When we finally turn full round from all that burden and care, and lift our face and gaze to the Father, and in all our powerlessness cry out to Him for help, we can then let go of our fears and concerns. Then every time without fail I can be the receiver of His grace and peace.

His presence provides all we need in the way of power, love, and a sound mind. This is what He provides for us, but when we allow the cares of life to disturb, I am walking away from all the peace He has to give. When I return, it’s all mine again and the fear cannot follow me into His presence. Oh, but to learn to remain there!

The release of concern, not in denial but in dependence on God, provides the pathway and opens our ears again to hear His voice. It’s good to remember that we are small, and can trust the biggest Giver of very life for daily life, so we are more able to trust Him with everything that concerns us. In exchange, we feel peace and joy restored, and the erosion of fear repaired!storms of life

Like a lip reader who gets distracted and then cannot translate what is being said to the deaf, so are we. When our focus is on anything other than the Father, and we see something wrong and move into deep fear, we are in the worst position to help because we have walked away from His presence and cannot hear what to pray, say, or do. He speaks in a still, small voice and the only way to hear it is to be near Him.

We can practice His presence in our daily life, and when a crisis occurs, we’ll be right where we need to be to hear the Father’s direction. Keep in mind, He may not tell you anything at all, or He may send you to make a difference. We must be so secure in our trust of Him that we don’t question the role He gives us, we simply obey.

“True sons and daughters of God are led by the Spirit of God and they are the ones who believe against all odds (in the face of adversity). Hope must take root and faith must rise that God does bring forth exactly what He knows is needed.”  Our goal is to live a Spirit-led life who makes the most impact in the lives of others, and with prayer or action, can bring peace to the storms of life.

Loads of grace and peace,

Robin

From the desk by the window on a sunny spring day, drawing in close ’cause I don’t want to miss a single word He says.

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, April 2015

Quote by Shirley Weaver Ministries, A Clear Trumpet www.acleartrumpet.org

It’s A Girl! {Part 2} Because Your Identity Matters

To know what God originally created and set in motion, to know how He defines women (and men), we go to Genesis 1. It’s important that we realize He never gave up His original plan. It wasn’t Plan A, and then Jesus, Plan B. No, Jesus came to restore all. Let’s find out what that means for us.

Adam, Eve, GardenGenesis 1:26-28 (Amplified)

26 God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.

27 So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28 And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.

In Genesis 2:18, 21-23 (Amplified)

18 Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (one suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh.

22 And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and fashioned into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.

Isn’t that beautiful? The creation of earthly relationship!

Genesis, apple, serpent, EveThen a bite of fruit and “everyone forgot God’s stunning 6th day assessment when He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone”. We forgot the woman he created as the perfect remedy for man’s lack, and Eve became a shell of her former self.

I BELIEVE God cast the mold for all women when He created Eve. She embodies the secrets of His original blueprint for us, so we rightly turn to her to understand who we are” and to discover God’s identity, value, and purposes for us. We evaluate ourselves with the definition we have of her, which is dangerous if we don’t hold the right definition.

Eve is displayed by many in the Church as a weak individual, a temptress, who will either bring men down with her, or try to seize control. I myself have heard pastors blame everything on Eve, and then women wondering who they really are want to slide under the pew. Not exactly a self-esteem booster!

Here’s a word that may be new to you: If you have pen, pencil, lipstick, or mascara, I want you to write down this word: E Z E R.

God created Eve to be His image bearer, and to be the EZER (Hebrew word) or the strong helper to Adam. She shared with Adam the same assignment from God – to be fruitful and multiply, to rule and subdue the earth. This was more than taking care of a Garden – this was about the whole earth!

And to “be fruitful and multiply” – this was physical AND spiritual. As image bearers, they would produce image bearer children, but they were also to produce worshipers of the living God, teaching others how to walk with Him. This mutual assignment encompasses all parts of life! God’s design for Eve applies to every woman, all the time, from the cradle to the grave.

And that word, EZER, yes it means so much more than helpmeet or strong helper. It is a military term that describes a warrior, and the only other time the word is used is to DESCRIBE HOW THE SPIRIT OF GOD COMES ALONGSIDE ISRAEL as a very strong helper.

woman with a bibleTo be God’s daughter, an EZER, holds as much significance and value as we will ever need, and the Father has never stopped making Ezers! But in our search for identity and self-worth, we lost God’s original intent somewhere along the way…

{More to come next week about the complimentary, blessed team relationship God created between women and men. We’re not to compete or be at odds, but work together to bring the Kingdom. OK, I’m about to spoil next week’s post!}

Loads of Grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window with the dog at my feet. 

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, March 2015

Source: Lost Women of the Bible by Carolyn Custis James

A Life in Ink {how intentional journaling keeps your life on track}

You’re here because you know something.  What you know you can’t explain.  But you feel it.  You’ve felt it your entire life.  That there’s something wrong with the world.  You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad.  It is this feeling that has brought you to me.  Do you know what I’m talking about?

~Morpheus in The Matrix

Year after year, there is page after page of thoughts, ideas, revelations.  Many are tear-stained, some coffee stained, and some have sketches of castles or ivy or whatever flows from the pen.  If laughter could be left on paper, there’s some entries that are joy-marked, too.journals

The baskets of journals around my desk are my life written down, my attempt at intentional journaling, describing how I learn to live, who God is and how to walk with Him.  My feelings about events and what they taught me.  Some pages were written with a glass of wine and are too honest for anyone but me.They aren’t for publication or even sharing, but many times I look back.

I look back to see what God said to me before.  It seems to keep my feet going in the right direction.  We tend to stray, following our gaze, and sometimes to our demise we find ourselves in a proverbial ditch.  I have learned much looking up from such places.

Other times, I have followed more closely, careful to submit as much of my soul as possible to the Lordship of Christ.  Whether I find myself in the valley or on the desired mountain top, each time I realize that I didn’t make it to either place on my own.  And whether it’s the ditch or the end of a long journey, there is a Shepherd who guides me.

The pages connected by lines of ink are written “to expose the unexposed.”  The words enable me to open doors, discover more honesty, to realize more of my voice for the truth wants to be expressed…I need to let it become words.  Maybe what I have written, the truest words, will help others along their way, like an unexpected lighthouse that shows the way forward, exposing dangerous rocks and shining on the smooth path like full moon.

This year has been very different.  I’ve journaled more and with more intention as God led me through a different path, my words spilling onto paper.  And some of this writing has surprised me.  My heart has been more opened in the last year, uncovered, and left vulnerable to more love than I can remember experiencing.  I’ve lived something like an adventure book with chapters that moved me with twists and turns from where I was to where I am going.

This year seems to have held more choices…or is it that I am learning to make more choices? The days fly off like pages out of the journal and if I don’t write the significant moments, will I remember? It’s like snapping photographs to capture a moment.  We think we can hold it again.  And we can look and remember, cherish what was and be ready to capture the next milestone.  The mind stores these days away on its hard drive and some files seem to get themselves lost, fragmented, but if written down, then they are kept for future access.  One has but to pick up the journal, find the page, and be thankful for what was given, realized, lived.

Always remembering that the rear view mirror is smaller than the windshield, a reminder not to linger there too long.

I have written down blessings and felt God’s love by reviewing that list composed of moments where God revealed Himself in the crunch of leaves underfoot in fall or the bread-smell of a granddaughter when she first wakes up and comes to cuddle.  These moments were captured in written pictures and I feel Him closer when I read them again, realizing that everything I experience is because He created it and said it was good.

“He is not far from any one of us.”  (Acts 17:27) 

Miles and years of ink are only good if they give testimony to real life lived out.  Fantasy, day dreams aren’t enough.  Planning, blue prints, outlines are nothing if the steps are never taken to complete the work, to finish the dream, to understand your significance. If you choose to join me in intentional journaling, write your thoughts, record your days, but especially write down what you want for your own life. In the writing and the speaking out of our dreams, there can come a new reality.

If you feel your life is not enough to write about, remember that small is not small in Heaven’s eyes. And look what Jesus can do with a bag lunch!  The Creator of Time blessed time.  So no matter what the remaining days of 2015 hold, remember that He is allowing you to choose how you will live them out.

What does your heart want?  What can you do to bring good for others?  Go for it, and record your journey, for Heaven is ready to help with love enough.  And at the end of this year, we can celebrate a life recorded, knowing God celebrates, too, for “He is not far from any one of us.”  (Acts 17:27)

Loads of grace,

Robin

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, Feb. 2, 2015

At the desk by the window with a thankful heart.

First Ever Radio Interview {Taking Our Voice Out}

We know we have to regularly step out and try something new if we want to accomplish great things. We’ve heard it and heard it, until right now, I’m about to lose you with this dialogue. Let’s switch gears then.

When have you had an opportunity find you? You know, the kind that God must have orchestrated, where someone calls and you wonder how they found you, hiding in your small house in your small town with your small self. You may have felt small, like me, and suddenly someone is at your internet door wanting to find out something about you!

microphoneDo what? You think I’d be a what?

All I have to do is answer your guided questions? All I have to do is talk? Well, people tell me I know how to do that!

That’s how it happened. I recently did my first ever radio interview for GoFlo Radio, a division of Muffuletta Media in Florence, SC. I had tried holding a conference call once and was miserable because I couldn’t see the faces of those I was connecting with. It felt like no connection. I like to be there in person so we can sit, talk, maybe have coffee. So that we really listen to each other and understand. So that there’s a hug when we both stand to go. That I can do, but radio?

Kevin Barron is a wonderful host – in restaurants, in their home, and even on the radio. He made the whole radio thing into a conversation between the two of us. And isn’t that what life is? A continual conversation, a connecting with God and other people, where you share wisdom, experience, and blessing in a life-giving way? I think it’s meant to be that way.

So I took my voice out.

I took my voice out and let it stretch it’s wings a bit. I had fun. Something new wasn’t threatening after all, it seemed. It was pleasant and exciting, and I’m still wondering about it. It sounds like it was my first interview so don’t compare me to your favorite TED Talk. But the point is this: I used my voice.

I used my voice and will again because I am supposed to use my voice to FREE other’s voices! (That’s right, now this is about you.) You have a voice, too, and it matters. We need to hear what you think, what you struggle with, what you dream. We need the wisdom to flow from your experiences that will be life-giving for the rest of us. So with this post consider yourself “found” in your small house, your small town, with your small self. Only you and I are not small, are we? We may feel small at times, but we have been created with great significance by a very big God, who out of a very big love gave us the ability to converse with Him and each other in relationship.

So take your voice out and share something today with someone whose path crosses yours. Be a life-giver. And when someone comes along who is to be a life-giver to you, I pray you listen and receive and feel greatly loved. Because you are.

A favorite verse for me regarding this idea is Psalm 45:1.

My heart overflows with a good theme! I recite my words for the King. My tongue speaks like the pen of a ready writer.

When we have let God’s love so fill our hearts and minds, our hearts will overflow with the good news of it! The encouragement from that kind of heart will want to tell what He has done in us. We don’t have to impress others with our words, just seek to share our own good theme!

If you’d like to listen and share it, here’s my “First Ever Interview” with Kevin Barron. I hope you enjoy it, laugh at it, and be encouraged to try something new yourself. And if I can encourage you in using your voice, just let me know. I’d welcome the opportunity! My email is sozolifeleaders@hotmail.com. Click the link, then click play!

GoFlo Radio Interview

Loads of Grace,

Robin

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, December 30, 2014