Tag: encouragement

It’s Time to Stand Up In Your Boat | Stop Swimming and Rest

You’ve heard that famous line Dory sang in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Is that how you’re feeling? Like you just need to push through the exhaustion, fight through that burned-out feeling, or just tuck your feelings away and go through the motions one more second?

You ‘just keep swimming’ no matter how hard it is because you know when you finally stop, you’ll have to deal with all the thoughts in your mind and the emotions in your heart, and one day you won’t be able to just shove the problems under the rug because the rug is running out of space.

During these times, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Does that sound a little cliché or too simplistic, or much easier-said-than-done? The translation from The Message really brings this instruction to life:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Notice in the beginning, “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.” To actually stop and rest in the presence of God is life-giving. If you want to understand God’s plans for you more clearly, and understand how He’s working in your life, you have to slow your life down to take notice.

Make space in your day to notice what God is doing, to receive His love, to allow Him to point you in the direction of healing. God wants to “show you how to take a real rest.”

It’s time to stand up in your boat of circumstances, stop swimming away, and recognize God is trying to speak to you. It’s time to move forward by resting.

Reach out if you would like to learn more about the step forward process, spiritual disciplines, or the benefits of personal coaching. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

It’s Time To Stand Up In Your Boat

I see you struggling to take that first step toward making an improvement, reaching a goal, or trying something new, completely unsure if you are making the right move or walking in the right direction.

I see you doubting that God could possibly be speaking to you and questioning why He would even want to. You know deep inside that you could make changes, but that familiar boat of your circumstances seems to be stuck or holding you back in some way.

Maybe you’re holding yourself back?

Let me share with you Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Not only does God care about you and want to speak to you, He created you for a purpose. Even on the days you feel uncertain, uninspired, or “less than” in any way, there is an invisible road in front of you mapped out with goals that only you can achieve, people that you are supposed to meet, lessons that you are supposed to learn, and a life adventure that only you can live.

One way to get clearer on God’s plan for you is to recognize that He speaks through His word. I love how Psalm 119:30 points this out: “the unfolding of Your words give light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

And who or what is ‘the simple’? The simple is you and me.

The translation of this verse found in The Message Bible puts it another way: “Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning.”

That’s you, that me, that’s us: the simple…the ordinary…the worn-out questioners in need of a well-lit path.

Romans 15:4 states, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

By spending time with God and digging into His Word for you, you can make improvements, you can reach goals, you can experience beauty out of ashes, and receive strength to get through dark moments.

You can stand up in your boat.

God is speaking to YOU!

Reach out if you would like to learn more about the step forward process, spiritual disciplines, or the benefits of personal coaching. It’s a joy to be part of your faith journey!

Seeing The Beauty In Your Storm

We often associate storms with destruction, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, a rainstorm passes through and leaves behind lush green grass, well-watered plants, and fresher air. Often, the darkness clears to reveal a beautiful rainbow…a sign of hope and a reminder of God’s covenant with us (Genesis 9:16).

Let’s look at John 15:2, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Just as the gardener prunes his fruit tree, God will prune us through various circumstances and storms. This changing, molding, shaping and refining of ourselves can be painful and life-changing, but if we trust in God’s work, then we will grow more deeply in our faith and relationship with Him, and increase our capacity to bear more fruit.

Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Notice where the scripture reads, “…I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

In the middle of our dark moments, we are often so focused on our struggle that we can miss the beauty of the ‘new thing’ — the new work — God is bringing about or calling us toward. Like a new sprout that unfolds in the garden after the rain passes, God is constantly at work creating beauty out of what appears to be ashes, making a way where there appears to be no way.

What storm are you experiencing right now?

Can you see God doing a new work in your life?

Please reach out if you would like to learn more about the step forward process, spiritual disciplines, or the benefits of personal coaching. Thank you for sharing your faith journey with us!

Walking Through Your Storm

Sometimes it rains a little, and sometimes a ferocious storm is unleashed that wields unspeakable damage and changes us forever. In the past three months, collectively, we’ve experienced the storms of quarantine and the pandemic, along with physical weather storms, individual medical storms, financial storms, and the longer-brewing storm of systemic racism.

Every storm that comes our way takes on a different shape, lasts a different amount of time, produces a different outcome, and requires a different set of actions on our part. Every storm is different, but God remains the same.

Let me say that again: Every storm is different, but God remains the same.

God doesn’t always remove the storm, but He walks with us through it. He faithfully never leaves us; He guides us and directs us.

Psalm 56:3-4 says, “When I am afraid, I will trust in God…In God I trust, I shall not be afraid.”

Part of getting through the fear of the storm is to trust God for the outcome. If we truly believe in His plans for us, and we understand how much He loves us, then we are willing to walk through the storm being led by Him, able to fully rely on Him — and rest in Him — through the dark moments of our lives.

What storms are you facing in your life today?

Are harsh words being spoken over you? Have you lost a job or been physically displaced in some way? Is there a big change coming for you? Are you trying to make steps forward, but you’re afraid or don’t know how?

Whatever storm you’re in the middle of, God is right in it with you and He loves you.

Please reach out if you would like to learn more about the step forward process, spiritual disciplines, or the benefits of personal coaching. It’s a joy to walk with you on your journey.

Standing Inside the Storm

Just over two weeks ago, I fell silent as the days became a blur of room-spinning nausea, head pressure and sinus unhappiness. This vertigo storm was one I had never experienced before. After one trip to the ER, lots of medication, the power of prayer, and days of healing, I’m on the mend.

About one week into my unexpected storm, I began climbing out of the vortex and started catching up on social media. In minutes, I became aware that there was an even larger storm reaching across our entire nation, affecting hearts and lives forever.

This hurricane of racial tension, hatred, violence, and murder had been brewing for a long time, and unlike other storms, this one affects each one of us regardless of geographic location. This storm hands us a mirror to hold up so we can visually see, and both intellectually and emotionally understand where we are on the ignorance, apathy, and tolerance scales. Each one of us has an individual responsibility in this storm.

My heart is wrecked for my brothers and sisters.

God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and with His expression of love and creativity, every single one of us has been given special gifting and a purpose.

To my sisters across race and culture, please receive this: God loves you. God sees you. God hears you. You have a beautiful purpose.

If you’re facing a storm, need help understanding your purpose, or want to go deeper in your relationship with God, we’re here for you through conversation, coaching and prayer.

 

the shoreline of perspective

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

[VIDEO CLIP]theshorelineofperspective

Standing on the shore, looking out at the expanse of water and sky – nothing but water…sun…clouds…and the whooshing sound of the waves as the tide goes in…and out.

Breathing in salty air…breathing out life.

Clearing my mind.

Clearing my soul.

Gaining perspective.

Sometimes God places us on the shore – to rest and retreat away from the crashing waves of chaos that push and pull at us: – that space of creative silence where we can’t generate content or pour ourselves out. That place of perspective and discernment where we don’t speak, but instead tune into what God is speaking to us.

This unexpected shore of perspective might be a job change, an illness, a shift in family dynamics…some life event or situation that causes us to step back and take stock of the situation, to reprioritize and reconnect with what is important.

“Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

Sometimes we feel sidelined on the shore.

Sometimes we feel passed by on the shore.

Sometimes we feel alone on the shore.

But the shore is a vital part of our walk with the Lord. If we live our entire lives walking on the busy, crowded water of our mission, or tossing in the chaos waves of the storm, we will miss what the Holy Spirit can only say to us in the quiet, decluttered spaces.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Stillness, retreat and silence are all necessary parts of our relationship with God. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily details of the task or mission, and even easier to make those details about the things we want instead of what God wants for us. Spending time in stillness and silence draws us closer to our Creator, deepens our faith, strengthens our relationship with Him, and reminds us that His plans are greater than what we can understand in our limited knowledge.

Time on the shore of perspective is time to allow God to bring the components of our lives into focus so that we can head back into the water with His Purpose, to let Him accomplish what only God can do.

Save

Save

beyond the tree

someday: beyond the tree

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

Recently, I was cleaning out the unfinished side of the basement which involved reorganizing and digging through stacks of boxes. As I unwrapped a pile of framed items to investigate, I rediscovered something special: a framed picture of tree tops against a sunrise.  These trees belonged to a neighbor’s yard a few doors up and I could see them out the side door window of the house I grew up in. About 30 years ago when I took this picture with a film camera, I titled it “Sunrise Through My Favorite Tree”.

Now, as I pulled this framed photo out of its aged, faded newspaper, I remembered what that fluffy tree on the right represented, and I realized that all along it was my “Someday” picture.

How many seconds added up to minutes,
added up to hours,
staring at that fluffy tree,
marveling at the sunrise or the sunset or the pretty clouds or swirling stormy skies.

How many hours added up to days,
added up to years,
looking out the window past the tree tops,
knowing there was an entire world waiting.

There were days when that waiting world seemed impossibly far away, as if it would never arrive — but those days where tempered by the ones when the eager anticipation of hopes and dreams would swell in my chest and fizz through my body to the point that I felt like I could fly over the trees into my destiny!

This treed view out my side door window contained no ordinary foliage. This view was filled with all of the joy, sorrow, and ups and downs experienced up to that point mixed with all of the anxiety, anticipation, hope, excitement and unknown of the future I longed for.

Someday…

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.”
(Jeremiah 29:11).

At some point, the future (a.k.a. “Someday”) arrived and it has been beyond my wildest expectations. That’s not to say there haven’t been rough times, disappointments, etc., etc. but what God has planned is so much more incredible than anything I could plan on my own.

What about you?

Do you have a “Someday” picture tucked away in a box somewhere? Or maybe it’s a memory buried deep in your heart…?

“Someday I _____________” (fill in the blank)

Do you realize that “Someday…” is now?

If you’re an adult, the future has arrived. God has a plan for you and He’s waiting for you to take the first step toward a deeper relationship with Him, and journey with Him on this wild, exhilarating ride that life can be.

What is stopping you?

Someday is NOW.

unexpected

expect the unexpected

This week…

Live out your mission…Walk the path God has planned for you whether it’s overgrown with brush, clogged with mud, or barren and less traveled.

Expect the unexpected…When you step out and start walking, each step with your eyes fixed on Jesus, your whole body leaning toward Him, your heart open, you will journey deeper and be drawn closer to the heart of God.

trust jesus

forward in love and worship

[cross-posted to www.kimberlygallagher.com]

We step forward in love

…Our hearts overflowing in thankfulness for the mercy and grace we’ve been given. Rescued from the pit of death we deserved, we have no choice but to say, “Yes God. Use me.”

We step forward with our gifts and talents

…Using everything we’ve been given to point people to Jesus. We sing, we sweep floors, we take tickets, we serve coffee, we design buildings, we engineer sidewalks, we direct traffic, we run companies, we discover new formulas, and we take every opportunity to say, “It’s not me. God makes it all possible.”

We step forward in faith

…Pushing past the blinding fear of failure and mockery. Our heart beating out of our chest, palms sweating, we make the phone call, we put in the application, we set up the meeting, we take the class, and we say, “OK God – I trust You.”

We step forward in worship

…Our hands lifted high, with all that we are, we surrender and we worship our King, our Redeemer, our Savior. We say, “I love you God.”

 

gifts and talents

explore

Happy Friday from all of us at step forward! Approaching the weekend can be exciting or daunting depending on your schedule. Often, our days are crammed with activities making space and silence a hot commodity. As we wrap up this week, our prayer is that you will have an opportunity to spend time in conversation with God so that you can be spiritually refueled for the days ahead. We also pray you will have time to explore your gifts and talents and consider how God wants you to use them for His Glory.