Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ONE WORD for 2014

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." ~Luke 2:19 (NIV)

WOW! I am so sad that I have not posted in almost a year!  Well, I guess I am going to embrace 2014 as a new beginning with new goals and with One Word.

This OneWord365 is something new that I stumbled upon a couple days ago through one of my great friends and cherished leaders, Mary.  What a brilliant idea, to do away with New Year's resolutions and to have God choose one word to work on daily with him throughout the year.  It is a bit scary because this word will change the course of my thinking and my everyday life.  I feel that the word I am choosing was hand picked for me as I look back at this last month and the absolute craziness it has been.

This December has been the busiest December I can remember in my 33 years on this earth.  From work, to birthdays, to traveling and having some travelers here, to sinus surgery - there was no room to breathe (literally & figuratively). Throughout this month, God kept dropping the above verse in my heart and I felt the nudge to really think about what God had been telling me in my quiet time. 

Now, I am a woman and I thrive off of relationships, sharing, and building on others ideas. Even in my journaling, it is hard to not share with one of my close friends what God is sharing with me.  Plus, I know that sharing my heart with a safe person is smart and brings wisdom. However, I felt that there was some key things that God really wanted to share with me and only me, and that he wanted me to ponder these things in my heart as Mary did. Doing this takes time, not something I have much of these days.

I also have had this inner drive and dream to increase in wisdom.  During an inner healing session with a friend, we discussed what wisdom looks like. As I told her about things I said in certain situations and handling some situations - she would say this is what wisdom looks like and would paint a picture of what I could have said or told me great job in what I did say. Thinking about how I phrased my words and how I shared a testimony - that is growing in wisdom. To grow in wisdom, to ponder, and to hear God's voice all took one key thing: the ability to pause.

This thought of pausing was solidified at the Christmas Eve service when I was visiting Seacoast Church.  The entire message that Pastor Greg spoke on was on "Pause". This was part 4 of the series and it was titled, "The Pause That Brings Good News".  Right there on the top of the note sheet was Luke 2:19 - I almost jumped with excitement because I totally heard God say, "Hey Laryssa, yes I Am speaking to you!"  I sat there drinking in the different reasons to pause like pondering, organizing your thoughts, and relating. I couldn't soak it all in fast enough!  It was confirmation that I was definitely supposed to write about pondering and pausing. 

After  sinus surgery on the 27th, I was laying in bed surfing through facebook and came upon this One Word thing. I thought this would be great and I had a pretty awesome idea as to what my word would be since my theme seemed to be pause. Well, God had a different awesome idea! I looked through some of the word lists for ideas and there it was and it couldn't be more perfect : SELAH - to pause!  It is used 71 times in the Psalms and Wikipedia says, "The Amplified Bible translates selah as "pause, and think of that"." How cool is that!?!?

So there you go folks, my One Word for 2014 is Selah. On the surface, this seems like an easy word but the more I think about it, the more I realize it isn't.  I am going to have to pause and think before I react at work, with friends, in the car (yikes), and even in everyday conversations! So this year will be full of Selah, I hope that in these moments of pause I will grow in wisdom greatly, hear God better than ever, and ponder the secrets he has placed in my heart that bring a true smile to my face. :)

Let's Pray:
Papa, thank you for bringing me through 2013! Through trials, tribulations, and joyful moments you are always at my side.  Lord, I pray that you help me pause this year in all moments. Help me to hear and see you in everything around me, to stay focused on you and to "Selah" as I grow in wisdom. Help me to come boldly to your throne, where I will receive mercy and find grace to help me when I need it most(Hebrews 4:14-16), to guide me to pause. Thank you Daddy for loving me for me and for the blessings you have for me in 2014!
In Jesus's Name,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!   #onewordthreesixtyfive #Selah #Pause                

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bitterness and Beauty

"Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics." ~ Ester 2:12

The many references to myrrh in the Bible have always fascinated me.  I continually wondered why it used in beauty treatments and given as gifts to kings.  We don't hear much about it in this day and age. I mean my  Christmas list doesn't include oil of myrrh, so what is the significance?  Well I decided to use some prior knowledge and do a bit of research on it.

The above verse speaks to me personally because I felt God calling me to give him a year (2012), to refocus on him and for some major healing and restoration to be done in my life.  When I read this passage, it confirmed that He wanted to take me through twelve months of beauty treatments.  Hmmm...so why the first six months with oil of myrrh?

The Hebrew word for myrrh is "Mowr" which means distilled and comes from the root word marar which means bitterness.  The process of distilling is defined by dictionary.com as "The purification or concentration of a substance, the obtaining of the essence or volatile properties contained in it, or the separation of one substance from another by such a process."  

Ouch!  That sounds a tad bit painful.  So this beauty treatment begins with God distilling me.  He is separating out the yuck from the greatness, and then purifying me.  Purifying and distilling isn't always such a pleasant thing, now is it?!?! But if the end result is purification, then bring it on!

Now, there is also the word bitterness, which is the root word of myrrh.  Well I thought that was weird but then remembered several years back when a friend told me to try some as a natural health remedy, almost an internal cleanse.  I purchased a bottle at the local health food store and did indeed try it.  The directions were to mix several drops with water or orange juice and drink quickly.....BLAH!!!  I never have or had tasted anything so bitter in my life and I am not even exaggerating a little!  There was not one ounce of pleasantness in drinking myrrh, at all.  I continued to try and drink some each day, but it made me physically sick so I gave up.  It was way to bitter for my body to handle.

The way myrrh is extracted from the tree is by piercing the center, or heart, of the tree and allowing the gum to trickle out.  Then the gum hardens into droplets referred to as tears, bitter tears. To me, this process represents Jesus's suffering at Calvary. Pierced in the heart by our sins, and crying bitter tears for our freedom.  When Ester was prepared with myrrh, it showed that God allowed her to share in His sufferings (especially for His people).

I must say that I was honored to go through this year with Jesus.  To have him pull all the yuck out, purify me, and to extract these bitter tears that helped bring freedom in many areas of my life.  It was well worth it because the following six months were followed by perfumes and cosmetics.  He replaced all those tears with seeds of joy, hope, and beauty.  

When Ester's year was up and it was her turn to go before the king, she was given whatever she wanted to take with her and she chose to just bring herself.  This speaks immense  measures about her character and about the woman I want to be before God.  Ester did not need bells and whistles to go before her king.  Nor do you or I need to bring anything excepts ourselves before Our King, to accept us or to adorn us with love!  He wants to purify you and even though it may be painful, it is well worth it in the end! 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

Let's Pray:
Father God, thank you for the trials and tribulations of this life that help purify and extract bitterness out of me. Please help me remember that You will not give me more than I can handle and that each day is a purifying and beautifying process.  You are amazing Lord, and I know that your plan for me is the best there is yet, even though there will be bumps and bruises along the way.  In my weakness, you are strong! (2 Corinthians 12:10)
In Your Name, 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Legacy Will You Leave?

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." ~2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

Recently, due to circumstances in my life and the lives of those around me, I have become keenly aware of how short life on this earth is.  This thought had been pestering me for several months and then I asked God, why this was such an important thought and why it had been plaguing me?  His answer was very clear, "Life on earth may be short but the legacy you leave behind can span for years, decades, or millenniums!"  It made complete sense at that moment, the cause behind this lingering thought was how will I be represented when I am gone and will my life boast of Him, and draw others unto Him?!?!

I cannot even begin to imagine what life on this earth would be like without God! How is it that so many go everyday without believing in Him or hearing His voice.  I know that I want some of His light to be shined on everyone I come in contact with, that is the legacy I want to leave behind.  Like 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, I want to fix my eyes on eternity with him and not the insignificant things that  I see day to day which are temporary.  

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV) The Lord has ordained my steps and each single day of my life.  He planned me before I was even conceived in my mother's womb and he knows how many hairs I have on my head (Psalm 139:13,15-16).  I am here to bring glory and honor to His name!  Would I be able to say that the decision I made yesterday or the words that come out of my mouth tomorrow are all for His glory?  Have I done all I can for the Glory of God?  No matter what the circumstances, miniscule or enormous, can I go on and say, "Bless the Lord, ALL my SOUL, He gives and He takes away, He will never leave me or forsake me," and these statements be truthful?

As these thoughts are running through my head, I stopped to reflect on them.  1 Corinthians 16:14 says, "Do everything in love." So I stop, and I refocus, and rethink...hmmm...is this being done in love?  If I don't get my way, and I going to react in spite or in love?  Are these choices I am making glorifying God and building a great legacy about Him, through me?

Of course this has become a daily refocusing activity for me.  I am constantly stopping, taking a breath, and thinking if Jesus came tomorrow - how would these minutes play out in eternity?  Grumbling about my job, gossiping about a co-worker, or giving one of my students the stank eye because they upset me is not going to build me up, its going to tear Him down, and there goes a legacy moment where I could of responded and done something in love.  

I want to leave this earth and hope that I have somehow touched everyone's heart that I have come in contact with, in some tiny way.  Even if they feel His love through a simple smile - it is well worth it! Though I mess up (frequently), His grace is sufficient, it covers me, and that I have made a difference somewhere in this huge world.  No matter if my life plays out the way I thought it would or wanted it too.

Lets Pray:
Papa, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (~Psalm 139:14).  Thank you for everything that you have given me, for your unending forgiveness and love, and your grace that covers me.  Help me to leave a lasting legacy of Your love to each individual I come in contact with and remind me to walk my days out in love.  Help me to keep focus on the unseen things that will matter in eternity.  When I walk into your courts Lord, I want to hear You say, "Well done my good and faithful servant!"  I choose to walk in love no matter what my earthly circumstances may bring!
In Jesus's Mighty Name,