{re}fresh

Tag: restoration

3 Steps to Scheduling a Soul-cation

by Dawn Aldrich

Image by Cristian Bortes_Flickr.com_4987916470_ef94f0d7bb
CC BY-ND 2.0

I anticipate summer all year, yearning for sunny days and warm temps when I can throw off my jacket, fling off my shoes and plant my feet on the cool green grass of my back yard, or bury them under the hot sand of the seashore. or swing them off the side of shade-covered hammock.

Summer’s when I reacquaint myself with nature, close up; when I dig in the rich soil of my vegetable garden and smell the sweet scents of the phlox growing by my back deck. It’s when my work seems more like play and the daylight hours linger long enough to make me tired. A good tired. A tired that says, “That was a good days work,” or “You played hard today.”

Summer rejuvenates and revives me and reminds me I’m part of something bigger.  Read the rest of this entry »

But I’m not tired! or When we act like a toddler

by Dawn Aldrich

Tantrum by Yong Thye
flickr.com_4041515933_2acb86dd84_CC BY-NC 2.0

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23:2-3 NASB

We’ve all seen it. Every toddler does it. When someone mentions the “N-word” they stomp their feet and declare, “I don’t want a nap! I’m not tired!”

And don’t you find yourself saying, “Oh, please. Would someone send me to bed for a nap? Pretty pleeeease?” Well, yes, I say that all the time…er…except when God asks me to rest. That’s when I take my toddler stance: place my hands on my hips, form the best pouty-face, stomp my feet and say, “But, God, I’m not tired!”

Can anyone else relate? Why do we do that? Read the rest of this entry »

God Isn’t into Nostalgia

by Mike McKinniss

7312960094_1362b26235_o

“Nostalgia Gums” by Effie Yang under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I am, sadly, beginning to encroach upon the age in which nostalgia becomes a real and powerful state of being. That is to say, my hindsight, far from being 20/20, is actually getting worse. I no longer see the rough edges of my youth, only soft and blissfully blurry lines. What’s worse, I don’t think I’d want the corrective lenses necessary to spot the warts of yesteryear.

And like my father before me, and his father before him, I’m prone to decrying the present in favor of the past. If only today could be more like yesterday, I lament. Where did we go wrong? Oh, God! Bring back yesterday!

But in my nostalgic folly, I’ve forgotten two important things.

One: Every age has its problems and n0thing has ever been perfect.

Two: God is not interested in turning back the clock. He moves ever forward.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Lord is a restorer. He redeems the lost. It is a great theme of the biblical story—perhaps the theme—that something pristine has been lost on this earth and the Creator has been relentlessly working to restore it.

But when God restores, he does not simply return things to the way they once were, but he resurrects to greater glory than had ever before been.

Consider, for example, the resurrected Jesus. Prior to his death, we are given no indication that his bodily existence was anything unlike our own. He ate and slept and rejoiced and wept. He was sinless, of course, and the Holy Spirit settled on him at his baptism. But he was completely human, like you and me. Prior to his death, Jesus’ body was very much like our own.

But upon his resurrection, Jesus was restored by God. He was dead, his life lost, yet God the Father acted on his behalf to give him back what had been lost on the cross. But God does not simply give back what is lost.  Jesus’ body is given back to him better than ever.

The gospels, in their tellings of the story, give odd hints at the difference between Jesus’ life pre-crucifixion and his resurrected body. Jesus is unrecognizable to people who had known him for years (Luke 24:13-35; John 20:11-18). He somehow appears physically behind locked doors (John 20:19). Somehow, in bizarre ways, the resurrected Jesus is not like the first edition.

Paul reflects on this resurrection reality more fully in several places. One such place—in fact his greatest treatise on the resurrection—is in 1 Corinthians 15. There he writes of the resurrection body the Lord restored to Jesus and will also one day give to all the faithful,

So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body (1 Cor 15:42-44).

Do you long for something lost? Do you pine for a time things seemed perfect? Here’s some good news: The Lord is a restorer. What’s more, he’s not satisfied with simply turning back the clock. He’s interested in a resurrection beyond anything we’d ever thought to ask or even imagine.

More Than Hearing: Soul Life

by Dawn Aldrich

LivingWater

Blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees planted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers… Jeremiah 17:7-8a The Message

One by one, cool mornings gather – sneak between our flip-flopped days. Summer scorched edges line the garden beds and pile beneath the trees. Back-to-school bargains fill our closets and drawers. We trade loose cottons for warm wools and bare toes for socked feet.

I think of all those lazy, carefree summer days gone by as autumn rushes in, clutters the ground and my calendar. Busyness pushes her way into every day, overrunning God’s presence – threatening soul death.

God describes self sufficient, busy people as tumbleweeds in the desert – roaming aimlessly with no roots. But…

God restores soul-life

Those who trust in Him – stick with Him – they are like trees replanted in Eden (paradise), rooted near rivers – “Never a worry through the hottest summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season”(Jeremiah 17:8b)

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be a strong tree, rooted in paradise, planted near living water, serene and calm, bearing much fruit than an aimless, tumbling tumbleweed in the hottest desert.

How?

Ø  God replants us in paradise. Sin uproots our relationship with God, like in the Garden of Eden. But Jesus came to restore that relationship through his death and resurrection. Romans 10: 9 say, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Ø  God supplies us with living water. Like trees, our souls need living water to flourish. Throughout scripture, God refers to himself as the spring of living water. If we stay rooted in Him by reading His Word, (the Bible) and learn to abide in Him – listen, pray, worship, we cannot help but thrive, flourish and bear fruit. God is our source of life.

Ø  God requires we rest and worship. Even God rested. At the end of creation, he looked around at all his work and said, “It is good” and then, he rested. He saw how good rest was and He required it of us: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). It was still important to God in Jeremiah’s time:

“‘This is God’s Message. Be careful, if you care about your lives, not to desecrate the      Sabbath by turning it into just another workday, lugging stuff here and there. Don’t use the Sabbath to do business as usual. Keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors’ ” (Jeremiah 17: 21-22).

In our fast-paced, cluttered, 24:7:365 worlds, let’s be mindful to keep our souls rooted near the spring of living water where soul-life flourishes in perfect rhythm between work, worship, and rest.

Prayer:

Father God, make us mindful of you throughout our busy lives. Tug at our hearts to slow down when we’re entangled in the demands of the day. Help us to carve our time alone with you so that you might fill us with soul-life that comes only through the infilling of your precious Holy Spirit. 

How Does Your Grace Garden Grow?

by mymorethanme

Watering our flowers by Chichacha. https://www.flickr.com/photos/chichacha/ CC by 4.0

Watering our flowers by Chichacha. https://www.flickr.com/photos/chichacha/ CC by 4.0

“I am not enough.”
It’s an old tape played out and worn thin. A deep-rooted weed from long ago that I have repeatedly dug up and tossed out, but still manages to somehow push its ugly head up through my life’s healthy, rich soil every now and again. How far those subterranean tentacles grasp. What kind of weed killer would I need to finally, fatally crush this insidious lie?
After a week or so of indulging this weed’s hissed whispers of, “You’re not a good enough mother, wife, teacher, friend, daughter, Christian…” I could stand it no longer, so I sat on the floor and opened a book the Lord had led me to a couple weeks prior.
Turning to that earthly comfort (a book) I hoped to receive heavenly encouragement (a word). I was not disappointed. God is so gentle, so kind, so considerate. He knows us well and will speak in any way we will hear. The question is never “Is God speaking?” but rather, “Are we listening?” Never, “Is God giving?” but, “Are we receiving?”
Flipping through the pages I watched as they settled somewhere in the fourth chapter, titled “Entrance into Rest.” Ha! My eyes drank the words and I tasted hope.
All my striving, doing, planning, projecting, worrying, controlling was senseless. Nonsense. Wasted time and energy. Stolen moments and memories. Hijacked peace and rest. Death in a garden of life.
I have long known the origin of this serpentine seed, but have not known how to eradicate it.
Now I knew.
The seed was true! The seed was good! I am not enough–hallelujah! But HE is!
My perception needed tweaking; my focus was off and I was digging at the wrong root. It was as simple as that. These fear, guilt and shame weeds sprouting from this “I’m not enough” seed were choking the life from my garden because my vision and my understanding were skewed! What I saw as a bad seed was truly a good seed, which meant these troublesome weeds were actually growing from a deeper, darker, more maleficent seed source.
Pride.
Ahhh, that slithery serpent’s favorite. Of course! Masking truths as lies and lies as truth because unseen is unstoppable and as we who grew up in the ’80s know from watching Saturday morning television “the more you know” the better.

The truth is I am not enough. Neither are you. Let that seed sink in. It’s really quite glorious.

The taste of hope on my lips became freedom food in my belly and I reveled in new-found peace, rest and liberty. I am not perfect and you are not perfect, only the Lord is, and He is full of love and grace and mercy for us all. I can forgive myself and I can forgive you because we are all lack and slack and He, our All-in-All, is the only One who has it and us all together, because yes, after all, we are all in this together.

Unbelief and disobedience had filled my watering can and would need to be replaced with trust and faith. Prideful wild weeds shrivel for want of sustenance as faith is fed and fear is starved. As spirit is fed and flesh is starved. As I surrender to God and rest and steer clear of self and striving.

Alone, I cannot do this. He, the Master Gardner, must do this in me, for me. He brought me out of the wily wilderness and He will bring me into His peace-filled Land of Promise.

He will bring me into rest. And He will do the same for you if you let Him.

Sitting under His watering can, drinking deep His endless love, I am drenched in His divine grace.

And I am growing.

I Thought I Knew What Love Looked Like

by Dawn Aldrich

firstloved

The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. John 14:21

“Most live life with love gone much unsaid.” These narrated words from a new BBC series pricked my heart as I thought about all the years I withheld my love from my father; repressed my childhood affection from the one who walked away and yet returned with a repentant heart. We’d lost so much time play-acting our roles as father and daughter all those Saturdays of my youth, that when he returned in my college days, I didn’t know what to do. Showing affection was awkward, at least, and risky. I allowed the fear of rejection to build an impenetrable fortress around my heart, keeping everyone at arm’s length, especially my father.

We lived most of the rest of his life with love gone much unsaid until God took hold of my heart about nine years ago. That’s when God pried open my soul and revealed to me my earthly father through His eyes. For the first time, I was able to accept him for who God created him to be and honor all his traits in me without shame. But it wasn’t enough to only ponder these revelations alone. God challenged me to forgive my father face-to-face and to speak my love out loud to him (talk about fear and risk). It took me a long seven months of God working on me to gain the courage to face my father and risk it all, but I’m glad I did.

My earthly father passed over a year ago knowing how much I loved him and forgave him. We left no words unsaid, he and I. I thought his passing restored all lost love between us and ended my father journey, but recently God taught me differently. For I learned that I could not possibly know what a father’s love looked like (or felt like) without experiencing it first. While God restored my love for my earthly father, it was far from that innocent, untainted love between a father and his daughter. My heart yearned for that which was lost from my childhood; a love that now only God himself could restore, for my earthly father was gone.

I stood amongst a few others while the leader of the small group stood on a chair above me, putting me in the posture of a young girl and her father. He then recited my personalized scripture as though God were reading it himself:

I cherish you with an unending, undying love. I pull you near and hold you close with my absolute, dependable kindness. Though your world be shaken and the familiar be removed, still my love for you remains–my boundless, unending, immovable love. My covenant, my word, my promise of peace also remains, for I AM tender, gentle and compassionate towards you, always. (Jeremiah 31:3, Isaiah 54:10 personalized)

In that moment I felt four-years-old again, standing beside my father, protected and encircled in his love. God stirred my heart like never before, lavishing His love on me in such a way words cannot adequately explain. Not only was it a time of restorative love of an earthly experience from my childhood, but more so a present and breakthrough experience of the depth of God’s love for me as my heavenly Father.

Jesus said, “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV). How can we adequately love another if we have not experienced that love from Jesus first? We can read how Jesus loved and try to love as he did, but we cannot offer the extent of his love unless we first experience it from him. This teaching blew me away (First Loved to Love seminar by Rev. Mark Fee). All these years, I’ve tried to love my father as Jesus had taught me to love and honor him, but I hadn’t experienced that type of father-daughter love from my heavenly Father at all. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to ask for it.

So, how do we love as Jesus love so that we in turn can love others? One way, as Mark Fee teaches, is personalizing love scriptures like I did above. Then, read it aloud several times (I found it most  effective when someone else reads it to me, like my husband) until you can actually feel the Holy Spirit’s presence. Then ask the Holy Spirit to embellish His thoughts regarding this scripture for you personally. Record what He says to you and meditate on that throughout your day. And in addition, love others as God is loving you.

All these years I thought I knew what loved looked like, but God is showing me so much more. He is showing me how high, how wide, how deep is His love. He’s longing to show you, too. Won’t you risk it?

Turning Disappointments Into Opportunities

by Julie

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We have all experienced moments, even seasons of disappointment. When our expectations are not met it’s hard and it hurts. When everything doesn’t go as we planned we feel disappointed.

We all do it. We dream up the way we think things should happen. We are let down when we get a new job and it doesn’t turn out to be everything we hoped for. When someone close to us hurts us it’s upsetting. When our life looks nothing like we thought it would that can be very discouraging.

One thing I learned about disappointment is that it usually comes when I didn’t allow God much say in the situation. I find the most disappointment comes when we don’t invite God into our plans. When we do this we operate out of what we want and that welcomes discouragement. Rather than allowing disappointment to become a pattern, we can move past it.

We can turn our disappointments into opportunities.

  • Look at that job.  Take the opportunity to thank the Lord for the His provision and the people you work with. Then watch and take notice how remaining thankful will transform your job.
  • Look at that relationship that is hurting and invite the Lord to give you His perspective. Allow Him to work in your heart for that person. Watch what He does and expect Him to move.
  • Look at your life. When things don’t line up the way you wanted them to you have the opportunity to trust and know that God is doing something amazing in your life. Know that it’s His pleasure to give you the desires of your heart.

Where are you disappointed today? What are the places in your life do you need to remain thankful? Where do you need to seek the Lord’s perspective? Where do you need to just trust and know that God is working?

God is a God of restoration. It’s on His heart to restore joy and hope back to you.

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