5 Ways to THRIVE This Summer

leaf-141494_1920My dream for summer is sunshine, rest, and lazy days (or at least a more relaxed schedule). I crave extra time to connect with family and friends and neighbors, to travel, to invest in the things that matter to me most.

Glory!

But too often my summer dreams fall short of reality. Faced with more free time and the idea that I have all day to get things done . . . I get nothing done. When I release myself from the schedule required in the fall, winter & spring, I also tend to release the habits and routines that help me to thrive.

2 weeks into summer, surely I am not the only one already sliding into this trap?

Maybe summer brings a drastic change in routine for you. Or perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom with small children, and the only change summer brings is heat. Or you have a job that doesn’t change or flex when summer rolls around.

Whether or not the season changes our weekly routines, we can ask:

How can I thrive this summer?

I’m focusing on 5 things as my prescription for thriving this summer.

#1 Make space, find quiet

During the year, I fight hard for quiet moments with God–time to read God’s Word, time to pray, time to sit and listen and be still. Often there is more time and space in summer, but because I’m not fighting for it, I miss it. For me, the key is to find quiet and space first thing, when possible.

My summers offer the freedom of sleeping in past my normal 6:30AM wake up. But I’ve found life works better for me when I wake up before my day, rather than being woken up into it. I’ll set the alarm for a little later, but I’m still going to set it. And I want the first thing on my list (when possible) to be a date with Jesus and peace and quiet, hopefully on my back porch with my coffee, journal, Bible, and maybe a good book.

#2 Have a plan

One of the best parts of being involved in EquipHer, besides getting to study the Bible with other women, is knowing exactly what I want to do in my time with Jesus. Summers offer more freedom, which I love. But I’ve learned that if I show up to my time in the Bible not knowing what to do . . . I end up not doing anything. So I know I need a plan.

Were there any portions of the EquipHer studies you did this year you were unable to finish, that you could go back and spend more time on? Is there a book of the Bible you’ve been curious about, that you could read through paragraph by paragraph over the summer?

A few things I’ve tried in past summers: Read and pray through the Psalms, a Psalm a day. Read through the book of Proverbs, a chapter (or half chapter) at a time, thinking about wisdom. Choose a gospel to read through over the summer, looking at how Jesus lived and interacted with people (This would mesh nicely with the EquipHer study this summer, covering the gospel of Mark.)

#3 Read good books

Summer is the best reading season, and I’m always on the lookout for great beachy reads and chunky paperbacks I can take with me to the pool or read on a blanket in the front yard while the kids play. But I also try to choose a few non-fiction books to feed my soul, Christian Living, or spiritual memoirs. I’d recommend anything by Ann Voskamp or Shauna Neiquist, and the best book I read this spring was Deidra Riggs’ ONE: Unity in a Divided World. I’m in the middle of Falling Free by Shannan Martin, a beautifully written story blending encouragement and challenge.

#4 Get outside

Winter in Nebraska finds me fantasizing about the summer, freedom to be out in the sun, to feel a warm breeze on my face, to exercise somewhere besides looking at a screen. But it’s easy to let the summer blaze by without taking advantage of any of these things, even though I know how genuinely good they are for my soul. This summer, I want long walks, eating on the back porch, grilling out, enjoying Nebraska’s “Good Life.”

#5 Invite others in

I’ve learned that one of the keys to my own feeling of happiness and fulfillment is connectedness with family, friends, and neighbors. What a delight to move out of the season for pulling straight into our garages and closing our homes up tight, when our main interaction with our neighbors is bundled up waves while scooping snow.

This summer, I want to live with open doors and a full table. Summer offers freedom to make a new friend, deepen an existing friendship, or reconnect with those you rarely see during the year. You don’t have to throw a party every week, but is there someone you’ve wished you could get to know or connect with on a deeper level? Pick up the phone, throw some burgers and dogs on the grill, and forget about the pressure to scrub your house from top to bottom. You’ll be glad you did.

Before we know it, cool breezes will be blowing and the leaves will begin to turn. What are you going to do to thrive this summer?

Find more from Renee at her blog, More Than Eyes Can See.

The Secret of Being Content

Season Summer Green Maple Leaves Leaf Tree

By Sheryl Murray

Thriving . . . quite an appropriate summer blog theme–a time of plants sprouting and reaching for the sky and young animals newly born and developing. That’s how I want my faith to be each day. I really want to be thriving–growing daily and reaching for the Son. But sometimes I find myself striving or just plain barely surviving. My heart’s desire is to be thriving while being content–with my circumstances and with the growth that the Lord is doing in me. What’s the secret?

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”      Philippians 4:11

I cannot tell you the number of times I have read and re-read this verse looking for the secret. For years I thought there needed to be a colon, not a period after the word want, i.e., to say, “I’ve learned the secret of being content and here is the secret:” but that isn’t the way it is written. I puzzled over the verse for years until one day it finally hit me–the secret of being content is contained in verses 4-9 above.

 Rejoice! (v. 4) God loves and cares for us. He wants the best for us. His ways bring life. We can trust Him. Express your love for Him with praise.

Do not be anxious. (v. 6) God is sovereign. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Live your life today; He takes care of your tomorrows.

Ask God for what you need, in thanksgiving. (v. 6b) God is our Father. He wants a relationship with us. Although He already knows everything, He wants to hear from us. It is difficult to be discontented with our circumstances while we are thanking our Lord for all that He has provided for us

Think on things which are good and right and true (v. 8)- Focus on Jesus–the way, the truth, the life. Peter could walk on water while he kept his eyes on the Lord but started to sink when he looked around to see the storming wind and waves (Matthew 14:22-33).

Put into practice what you already know (v. 9) Don’t fret over things you don’t understand. Rather, put into practice what you do know about trusting and obeying God. Keep reading His Word which transforms our minds and keeps us in His will.

These are the principles, the “secret,” to being content. You and I need to allow the Holy Spirit to give us the power to follow these principles. And the result? Peace which transcends all understanding (v. 7) and an ability to do all things that the Lord has asked of us (v. 13).

That sounds like thriving to me!

 

 

Tumbleweeds and Trees

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Tumbleweeds tell a story. Whether they’re plastered along a fencerow or bouncing down a highway, they speak of a dry and rootless life. They are the fruit of a barren wilderness. Jeremiah used them as an example when bringing this … Continue reading

God Gives Fruit

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This gallery contains 2 photos.

Where are you today? Are you THRIVING or are you STRIVING? Because our striving tree is not real . . . alive . . . or free, it also will never be fruitful. It looks great on the outside, but … Continue reading

God is Delighted

Today we hear from Marlys Burgett, Director of Women’s Ministries.  These were her words to us October 19, 2010 during Titus Women worship time.

About 3 weeks ago, Shereen and I left Titus Women and went to visit Jill Truckee in the hospital. She had just delivered her new baby boy, Andrew. We entered the hospital room to see Jill sweetly looking down on the newest member of her family. Her eyes were bright blue and she looked beautiful, radiant. Her smile was huge and she was peaceful, serene, contented.

She handed Andrew to Shereen. And as you do with a new baby, Shereen carefully held his head and drew him close, laying him in her lap. I had the blessing of a Kodak moment of sitting across the room watching the scene unfold. Whispers of “isn’t he lovely”, “how sweet and beautiful” “Oohs and aahs”.  Jill watched Andrew being held by Shereen. Both were smiling and happy, overjoyed; enthralled in the wonder of creation; delighted by this baby boy.

And you know, this is how God views us.  He is delighted in us.  He is enthralled with our beauty for He delighted to create each of us, unique in His marvelous image.

Webster defines delighted:  pleased, happy, elated, overjoyed, charmed, enchanted, thrilled.

 Psalm 104:31 “Let the glory of the LORD endure forever; let the LORD be glad in His works.”      

He delights in what He has made; you and me!

Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like You? Who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious acts of the remnant of His possession?  He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in loving-kindness.” 

He is delighted to shower us with love and kindness.

Jeremiah32:41 “And I will rejoice (delight) over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.”                       

He is delighted to do us good, with all His heart and soul. Isn’t that incredible!

God is delighted!   Do you believe that?  Do you really believe He is delighted in you, His daughter? Are you delighted with Him?

Maybe you believe He could not be delighted with you.  Perhaps there are things too awful in your life; situations God could not possibly delight in; relationships that well, if you were to be honest feel hopeless. Maybe you do not sense delight in your relationship with God. You are disappointed, heartbroken, frustrated; life has not gone as you had hoped.

 A verse out of Job lends wisdom to these questions of delight and how to Thrive in this journey in life. This wisdom has been true for those of us here at Titus Women and for me in my life. After 32 years of flowing Jesus. He has never failed me.

 Job 22:25 “Establish His words in your heart….return to Him and be restored…for then you will delight in the Almighty and life your face to God.”

Susie, (name changed for confidentiality) a young single mom of 3 kids asked for an appointment to see me. She is a woman who has been transformed literally inside and out due to walking with Jesus. She used to look worried, fretful and always nervous. She talked in circles over and over about all her problems. And yes, there are many. Now, 2 years later she sits and calmly talks about God in her life. How He has changed her heart, her choices, her friends, her priorities.  She smiles and weeps with His goodness to her. But there’s one thing she is struggling with still, her past, it looms over her and robs her often of joy and peace. She knows Jesus has saved and forgiven her, but she is struggling to forgive herself, rehashing the sins, beating herself up.  One evening she is reading in her Bible. She desperately wants to establish His word in her heart.  She sees the verse: “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Thus the appointment with me. She’s heard my story and has a similar story to tell; secrets she has never shared with another:  promiscuity, abortion, abuse of alcohol and drugs.  I’m honored and humbled to sit and listen to her share her past.  She continues reading her list:  yelling at her kids because she is so frustrated with life. Gossiping at work. Fear; will she be able to provide for her children?

Suzie, “you are no longer bound by a past identity of poor choices, but bound to Jesus, your new identity who is delighted by you”.

 Susie comes to the end of her list, we cry with tears of joy. We pray through Isaiah 61 (my favorite passage, here’s a synopsis);

“bringing good news to the afflicted,

binding up the broken hearted,

 liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners,

 comfort for those who mourn….so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified. Instead of shame and humiliation you will have a double portion and everlasting joy.”

We have a God who is delighted to shower forgiveness, mercy and blessing upon us!

 Susie tears up and rips the list of past sins. “Wow that felt so good.” We walk hand in hand to another room. We drop the shreds of paper into the toilet and flush.  We laugh, we say praise and glory and honor to God; delighting in Him and her freedom found in His loving arms. I sense the angels are rejoicing.  Another child of God free of the past — He is delighted.

 I ask you again, do you see God is delighted? Are you delighted in Him?

If not, I encourage you to spend time journaling on Psalm 103 and Isaiah 61. Ask Him to remove barriers to sense His delight for you. Find His character (attributes), who He is. Pray for your heart to be open to establish His word in your heart. Pray for restoration as you seek His face.

I don’t know about you but often I’m so prone to wander from Jesus. I want to be in charge, go my own way, be stoic and self-sufficient, not need anyone – that path always leads to frustration, anxiety and fear. But, when I return to Jesus, I am restored, safe at home…..delighted in Him and He in me.

Dear Lord Jesus, we bless you and thank you for being a God who is delighted in your creation….us! You pardon iniquities, heal diseases and You redeem our lives from the pit. You desire to crown us with loving kindness and compassion. You satisfy our desires with good things and renew our strength. Your compassion never fails for great is your faithfulness. All praise and glory and honor to You. Amen.

Thrive!

May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (Romans 15:13, The Message)

 Green hope is what makes us thrive.  It’s not just for those already living successfully who pump out heaping baskets of fruitfulness.  It’s not for the strong and capable among us.  Green hope is for the empty in need of a fresh filling of joy and peace.  It’s for those who believe with their lives not just their words.

 This is what green hope looks like ….

 

Of all the places for a seed to sprout and take root and grow, why here?  There would never be abundant soil, the rain would quickly flow away from this tree, and the heat off the rocks would always be intense.

 Of all the places for God to water and nourish a seedling, why not here?   It’s roots would dig deep and be tied to a rock, it would be sheltered from harsh weather, and it would always rely on the day-to-day care of the Master Gardener.

 Where has the Master planted you right now?  Are you thriving there?  If you allow Him to tend your heart, invite His care into your life, and trust Him to protect you each day you will brim over with hope.

It’s our desire to lead you into a deeper understanding of God through study in His Word, reflection on His Spirit at work around us, and being part of a community of faithful women who love Jesus and one another.  Thrive and flourish with us at Titus Women this year!