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Posts Tagged ‘intentional living’

And the Rock still stands. Solid. Unmoving. Ever-present.

The base of the purple-tipped mountains blurred softly along the undulating edge of the rising fog like the folds of a heavy curtain lifting ever so slowly to reveal the hardscape of Nature’s beauty.

It was only a glimpse. An impression captured on the way to work when, amidst the rush of traffic, I paused at a red light; the Father revealing a simple truth in the imagery of clouds ascending toward heaven.

Sometimes, in the practicality of living, I forget to remember the beauty around me. The living, pulsing artistry of day and night. Moments shared with friends and family. Memories hewn from joy, tears, loss, and celebration. I even forget to remember God’s beauty.

His faithful deliverance from sharp-edged difficulty. His all-embracing, doubt-replacing goodness when I’d given up on everything but merely surviving the day. His unmatched grace and forgiveness for a woman undone by the past and uncertain of the future.

And the Rock still stands. Solid. Unmoving. Ever-present.

A flash of red captured my attention and I shifted my gaze forward. Cars and vans carrying harried passengers in a rush to the next important place—work, school, daycare—hurtled by and I wondered how many noticed the lavender and pink blush of sun pushing the cold, clingy clouds aside to reveal the immovable, constant presence beneath.

I need reminders to alter my focus—like light that envelopes crimson sediment and brushes lingering vapor aside. Perhaps when I pause, I’ll notice Him being revealed in the unexpected and unplanned. In the movement of everyday ebb and flow. In percolating laughter and sympathetic tears.

It only takes a glimpse to notice Him.

 

Verse for Reflection

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Ps. 46:10

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Summer Giveaway! (1)https://tammykennington.wordpress.com/

My God-sized dream is to meet with you here and to make a small difference in your life and the lives of others through simple, authentic words splashed across a screen. When I write? I pray for you. I want to lessen your heavy load and celebrate your special moments.

I want to dive deep into the places of our lives and hearts that most call out for mercy and mending, encouragement and hope. Into those quiet corners tucked behind the everything-is-great-all-of-the-time church smile. Below the easy response of I’m fine to the truth of each woman’s life–the joys, the struggles and everything in between.

As I map out the next few months, I’d like to ask for your input. What topic would you like to explore? How can I come alongside you?

Would you respond in the comment section and let me know if any of the following areas strike a chord? If not, what other heart journey should venture into together?

To be entered in a GIVEAWAY for this beautiful dragonfly necklace just do these two things.

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1) vote for your favorite topic or series in the comment section below

AND

2) share this post with a friend who might want to be part of the giveaway. You’ll get an additional entry for each friend who joins us for the GIVEAWAY. 

Topics I’m thinking about might include:

  • Steps of Obedience
  • 16 Days–Who Does God Say that I Am?
  • Walking In Forgiveness
  • God Can
  • Trusting God

Thank you for sharing the deep place that  resonates with your heart.

Warm Regards,

Tammy

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I didn’t meet a single writing goal this week. Am I disappointed? Definitely. Frustrated? Yes. Rested? Refreshingly so.

My dog’s sharp Feed me! yelp and a painful twinge in my neck greeted me Monday morning. Sighing, I slipped from bed into the regular morning routine—spending a few quiet moments in prayer before taming my bedhead and hustling out the door for work. Before long, a headache invited itself to the “she’s-worn-out-and-needs-to-slow-down-party” and became a permanent resident for the better part of the week.

My response? I s-l-o-w-e-d down. A lot.
Hurting and desperate for relief I took a muscle relaxant. I spent the rare hour with a massage therapist. No change.

The only alternative? Sleep. And a lot of it—my pre-teen tucked me in instead of the other way around.

And this morning? I awakened with something rarely experienced in my not-a-morning-person experience—yes, a smile. I felt good bordering on great.

What a glorious sensation!

For years, I’ve joked that I’m a Type B person living like a Type A. My joy comes not from doing, but in being….in experiencing…in dreaming and this week I’ve been reminded of who God created me to be—someone who requires quiet. Time for reflection. Moments to rest.

Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirrst (3)Even the do-ers in the crowd need rest. You know who I’m talking about–the people with an overabundance of energy, drive, and focus–the ones who attack the checklist with a vengeance and cram a week’s worth of tasks into one day. People like my husband or co-worker who seem to thrive on caffeine and just the idea of busy. But, even the industrious let’s-get-‘er-done types need to step down from the frantic pace and—well, breathe.

Whether you’re a Type A imposter or someone who borders on workaholic, remember the all-powerful Creator sanctioned a time for rest—not because He needed refreshment, but because His knew people would.

If you, dear Friend, are caught up in a season of endless busyness, maybe it’s time to put some of your burden down and exchange it for rest. Time spent in the presence of Eternal Refreshment. A few hours invested in family and friends. And, possibly, a night or two of indulging your body with the often-denied-but-much-needed sleep.

Maybe you’ll wake up with a smile, too.

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The mountains are yearning.Schloop!

Did you just hear it?  That was the sound of the last bit of energy being sucked from my body. Too-early-mornings punctuated by spilled Cheerios and staff meetings with coffee that slides down the back of the mouth as thick and distasteful as oil have merged with post-Spring Break study marathons held in honor of my reluctant-to-participate pubescent children. And the time in between? Appointment-aligned and hard scheduled on three different calendars. The optimistic hope is that multiple postings of orthodontist appointments and sports events will keep me organized…on top of things…able to manage the time crunch.

Do you ever feel the same way?  Are you running in circles just trying to keep up with life’s business when you realize you’ve lost sight of the most important things?

The verse God keeps whispering in my ear is, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  My answer, “Lord, how can I be still?  There is so much to do!”

But, life’s obligations will always encroach on quiet moments…peaceful moments…moments of  reflection…moments of being in God’s presence.  So, dear friend, wherever you are today—take a breath.  Inhale the freshness of God’s spirit.  Consider the One who created you for His glory.

Be still.  Just be–if only for a moment.

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Love each otherLife seemed to take a wrong turn when her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Together, they relocated to Manhattan where some of the best treatments were available–far from the slower-paced, small town in Colorado. Physically distanced from family and friends and immersed in a world of sterile hospital rooms and uncompromising statistics, loneliness became an cloying companion.

Unwilling to foster an ongoing relationship with isolation, a determined                   twenty-something dialed the suicide hotline. She told the soothing voice on the other end of the line about her desperation. She spoke of a sense of worthlessness. Then, she explained the reason for the call.

Ready to break the chains of loneliness, Daniel Hernandez offered to step away from her own pain by embracing the stories belonging to others. For two years, Daniel volunteered as a voice of comfort and encouragement to the desperate and disillusioned, the hurting and the hopeless.

Is it possible loneliness is your unsolicited sidekick, as well? Does isolation invade the space of healthy relationship in your life ? Are you, perhaps, even coddling loneliness because of its familiarity? Or, when you look at others with the eyes of Christ do you notice the lonely ones? They are everywhere–hoping someone will take a moment to smile…engage…love like Jesus.

Today, I’m issuing a challenge. Friend, whether you are lonely or not–will you allow your struggle in the now to motivate you toward investing in someone’s tomorrow? You don’t need to be the voice on one end of a hotline to make a difference. Just take one simple step–invite a neighbor for coffee, ring up an old friend, plan a date night with your husband.

Let’s break the chains of loneliness.

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When my pastor shared a statistic in a recent sermon, I allowed my gaze to settle on the faces of those around the room. How many felt a painful stab of recognition when he mentioned the hidden epidemic?

It might have been the young mama who attends church each week while her husband serves the country in a dusty land halfway around the world. Or, perhaps one of its victims was the teen girl who shifted uneasily at its mention. She’s the one with the dare-you-to-say-anything expression—physically distanced from her family; arms crossed in an attempt to fend off well-meaning attempts to approach her. Maybe the words penetrated the heart of the smartly dressed elderly woman—the woman whose smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. When I greeted her, she mentioned that her husband refuses to venture beyond the confines of their home. Could she be the face of the statistic?

Who, I wondered, are the lonely ones?                back-1822702_1920

 The statistics are alarming. The General Social Survey reveals that the number of people without one close friend has tripled since 1985 and more people than ever report feelings of chronic loneliness.

In our LinkedIn, Facebook-friendly world, why are more people battling with the pain of loneliness than ever before?

I believe loneliness stems from our deep soul-need to know and be known—intimatelypersonally…unreservedly—and to be loved and accepted despite the knowing.

I invite you to join me this month as we explore 16 Days–Breaking the Chains of Loneliness. Our families, churches, and communities need women willing to reach out—women called to pray, serve, and encourage. Let’s be lover’s of the lonely!

And, Friend, if you are a lonely one? I’m praying for you! God knows your need–your heart. He whispers your name and promises to “never forsake or leave you”.

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Greeting me with a smile, my friend announced with conviction, “I think I should focus on the positive things. I need to be more grateful for the good that is happening.”

Considering the discussion, I began imagining what it might be like if we—God’s women—consistently chose gratitude. How might hearts overflowing with thanks transform our lives? Could the life of a Christ-follower unburdened by the weight of thanklessness more powerfully impact others?

As prone to grumbling as anyone else, I often catch myself murmuring about the inconsequential…noticing the small stuff…losing sight of the eternal because I’m running hard into the right now of life. And, honestly, much of my thanklessness centers on me–focuses on the inconveniences common to the first-world problems of Self.

Can’t anyone remember to wash the toothpaste out of the sink?

Won’t someone please pick up the socks?

I don’t understand why nobody rinses the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

 During these complaint-filled times, my children avoid me—gesturing wildly at one another to escape upstairs. Dave, the love of my life and skilled interpreter of both my tone and actions, suddenly realizes he needs to send an email. Even the dog wanders to a quiet corner—protected from the words of an ungrateful woman.

But walking in gratitude? Humility expressed in thanks? Gratefulness rightly directed toward God? These are the marks of a right attitude…the differentiation between those things that are important and those that are temporal…the willingness to bend a knee in recognition of the One who deserves all thanks and praise.

This month, let’s choose to live intentionally grateful. Will you join me? Let’s exchange criticism for thanks, ungrateful hearts for spirits abounding in gratitude, and negativity for right attitudes shaped by humility in our position as followers and servants of Jesus.

 

Scripture for Reflection

 Psalm 136 The Message (MSG)

1-3 Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods,
His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
His love never quits.

4-22 Thank the miracle-working God,
His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos,
His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations,
His love never quits.
The God who filled the skies with light,
His love never quits.
The sun to watch over the day,
His love never quits.
Moon and stars as guardians of the night,
His love never quits.
The God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn,
His love never quits.
And rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression,
His love never quits.
Took Israel in hand with his powerful hand,
His love never quits.
Split the Red Sea right in half,
His love never quits.
Led Israel right through the middle,
His love never quits.
Dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea,
His love never quits.
The God who marched his people through the desert,
His love never quits.
Smashed huge kingdoms right and left,
His love never quits.
Struck down the famous kings,
His love never quits.
Struck Sihon the Amorite king,
His love never quits.
Struck Og the Bashanite king,
His love never quits.
Then distributed their land as booty,
His love never quits.
Handed the land over to Israel.
His love never quits.

23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
His love never quits!

 LIVEFREETHURSDAY

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bible-896222_1920.jpg“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

The mound of dishes extends to the uppermost edge of the kitchen sink and, reluctantly, I begin the process of methodically rinsing each plate, bowl, and glass before depositing it in the dishwasher’s plastic divider. I have just enough time to finish peeling the baked-on oatmeal from the insides of the crockpot before my daughter rushes around the corner with a look of concern etched across her delicate features.

Mommy, I need help with my math NOW.

 Casting a quick glance toward the stove, I notice the pot on the right back burner is spitting angrily across the surface. With a sigh, I quickly twist the knob to low and turn my attention to the frustrated middle-school girl planted directly in front of me. She is a diminutive package of frustration and tears and I can’t wait for the school week to come to an end because then I she will have a break from homework.

In that moment, the dogs begin barking uncontrollably—probably at a wayward rabbit passing through the yard—and a hungry teen-aged boy utters something about being hungry.

Me? I just want to go to bed. And I wonder why some days seem much longer than the standard 24 hours.

Jesus recognized this same weariness in his disciples.

Their day had been overflowing with prayer, preaching, and healings. The people–needy and desperate–longed for someone to make a difference…to change their lives…to offer hope. And that day? Hope arrived in the form of Christ’s own apostles who spoke comfort…joy…peace.

But by the days end, the men were as empty as my freshly rinsed sink. Do you ever feel it, too? The need to be filled up…restored…replenished?

Jesus offers us the answer. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.

 Make your appointment with the Prince of Peace, friend. Breathe in the rest only He provides. Step away from the pressures of the immediate and discover soul treasure in the Eternal. He’s waiting to meet with you today.

 

 

 

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I don’t have a bucket list and I never make New Year’s resolutions. While my intrepid husband conquers mountains, launches himself from the safe confines of an airplane, or explores the waters in which bull sharks thrive; I curl up contentedly on the sofa with the dog at my feet and a book in my hand–Jane Austen…Mary Higgins Clark…Jodi Picoult. Do you know how much adventure exists between the pages of Jane Eyre?

 I’m a middle-class mom shuttling middle-school kids in an SUV with French fries wedged between the console and the passenger seat. One child sits in the far reaches of the vehicle and the other perches next me—constantly switching the channel on the radio. The boy yells in response to something the girl said, “Knock it off, drama queen! My day was worse than yours!” Angrily, my daughter cranks the volume and the thrum, thrum, thrum of Lady Gaga’s voice fills the space. I sigh, fondly recalling the days when my children were non-verbal and easily soothed with a blankie or thumb.

There are dishes in the sink and our house is well lived-in. Scuffs along the baseboards bear the marks of superhero figures engaged in battle and the baskets on top of the refrigerator—meant to be a statement piece—hold a collection of stuffed animals the retriever borrows from my sweet girl’s room. With a scouring pad foaming in my hand, I take out my frustration on the glob of green toothpaste smeared on the counter and question whether I will ever be able to keep up with the demands of being a wife and mother.

Then one evening David the Intrepid asks, “How was your day?”

“Mediocre,” I respond. “I worked all day, helped the kids with homework, threw dinner together, tossed in a load of whites…nothing special. It was just—ordinary.”

“Sorry to hear that,” he says.

After a good night’s sleep and time spent in prayer, I looked my husband in the eye to tell him the truth.

“I wouldn’t change it.”

“Change what?”

“I wouldn’t change anything. I always wanted to be a wife and mother and if that means there are times of monotony, I don’t mind. Not everything is sunshine and romance, but I want to be the one packing ham and cheese sandwiches and searching the Internet for answers to 7th grade science questions. (By the way, does anyone remember what the endoplasmic reticulum does?) If that were missing? I would have missed out on the fullness of living a life for the people I love most.”

I don’t spearhead a huge ministry, inspire thousands with words of wisdom, or impress others with my flashy career. I just do my best to love people…to share an encouraging smile…offer a prayer for a hurting friend—and fully live as beautifully ordinary.

Scripture for Reflection—Living Life Fully

 I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10 MSG)

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4 NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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psalm 73

 

All of my self-created, self-proclaimed, self-protective vows could fill a book. You know, the ones whispered under my breath when I’ve been near bursting with anger…fear…judgment…hurt. Those silent promises and I-will-nevers intended to set a personal standard or to protect my own heart or the hearts of those I love. They’ve often proven impossible to uphold and are usually a hindrance to personal, relational, or spiritual growth.

You know what I mean, don’t you? We all have our nevers.

The divorced woman who has vowed to never marry another man—but lives as someone’s common-law wife. The woman who swore she would never smoke cigarettes after watching a loved one die of lung disease now burns through at least one pack a day. The grown man who was determined he would never treat his child that way—and hears the same ugly words of his father or mother erupting from his own mouth.

We all have our nevers. Read Peter’s words—his never—spoken boldly to Christ just prior to being turned over to the authorities.

31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (Matthew 6:31-34).

Did Peter intend to live up to his words? Yes.

Was his motive wrong? Of course not!

Then what is the matter with Peter’s I-will-never? Is there something wrong with our nevers?

The problem begins with the words I will. Peter’s driving force—his strength—was centered on self; not on the sustaining power of God the Almighty. And self can only carry a given distance. Peter’s personal best? He made it as far as the walls of the court before betraying both Christ and his fervent I will never!

Let’s look to Jesus as he seeks solace in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to his arrest.

And going a little farther he (Jesus) fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Did you notice it, Friend? Jesus—who knew of the beatings he would endure and understood the shame of the cross—said, “Not as I will, but as you will.”

Isn’t that remarkable? Christ didn’t choose self. Self-protection. Self-interest. Self-will. Instead, he chose the will of the Father. And the best of Christ joined to the will of the Father resulted in unimaginably beautiful forever-life at the intersection of nail and flesh.

The next time a personal I will never thrusts itself into my thoughts, my hope and prayer is that I would it turn it over to God.

Lord, what is Your will in this situation?  In this moment?   In this hurt?

 And even more—would that I could bravely whisper, “…but as You will.”

 

Scripture for Reflection

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10)

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.         (Isaiah 40:29)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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