the “light up” reaction

have you ever seen one of those stuffed animals that lights up and plays music when you squeeze it?  a few of the kids i’ve watched have them and like to snuggle with them.  curious george’s head or glow worm’s face reacts endearingly to embraces by little arms and the song inside of them sings a melody to comfort the spirit of the little ones.

i just got back from spending a week in florida, visiting ocean’s edge and calvary ftl for their essential worship conference.  i had been looking forward to my trip for weeks beforehand, getting refreshed and equipped at the conference, relaxing by the pool or on the beach in the hot sun, and reuniting with the friendly faces of my oe family.  on my spirit air, $9 fare member seat, equipped with a straight back chair and approximately six and a half inches of leg room, a funny sensation swept over my body.

anxiety.

my mind slipped into dangerous territory as i began to worry what my time would actually be like down there again.  i started listening to the lies, “what if they don’t really like me?” “you’re really just going to be one of those lame alumns who go back to their alma mater to relive the ‘glory days’.” “they don’t need you or want you to come back.”  my spirit started sinking.  i wondered if i’d made a mistake in going back down and in my mind, i thought i had just created this fantasy with my memories of south florida.

then i arrived at the airport and was greeted by open arms, smiling faces, and warm embraces from two of my dear friends.  furthermore, when they dropped me off at the apartments, shrieks of joy and two more sets of arms wrapped their love around my waist.  the next day at the conference, the pattern continued all day as i reunited with more and more of my family members.  i literally felt their spirits lift mine and the anxiety i cultivated on my flight melted away.  i was foolish to believe those lies.

each one of those reunions was memorable and important.  i’d like to call these moments, the “light up” reaction…  you know, when the face of someone you love literally lights up because they see you.  think about what that does inside of you.  these reactions actually feed our spirits, because it’s as if someone is saying, “YOU!  you are here. you being here makes me better. you are valuable, you are precious, and you are loved!”  

our spirits, much like our bodies, need to be fed.  if they aren’t fed, they will whither.  you can feed your spirit by doing things you enjoy, listening to good music, enjoying nature, hanging out with close friends, enjoying a well-cooked meal, reading an inspirational story, celebrating a victory, or simply sitting in silence with a kindred spirit.  one of my favorite ways to be fed though, is through the “light up” reaction.   my friends in florida provided such good food to my spirit, as if they were human versions of the light-up stuffed animals who sing their soothing songs to the little ones who hug them.

be the kind of person who lights up when a loved one walks into the room.  you will serve the receiver a meal for their spirit that they won’t soon forget.

thanks @oceansedge friends, for feeding my spirit!

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divine “coincidences”

I know, I know. Two posts in a few days!? But a few cool moments have happened spontaneously recently that I feel compelled to share, two of them relating to the devotional book I’ve been reading this year called Jesus Calling.

A few days after I blogged about sabbathing, I read this powerful insight… On my sabbath. Huge.

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Then two days ago I blogged about listening to God’s voice and I read this insight yesterday. I mean, really?

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On Thursday night, the five busy and very independent members of my immediate family all “happened” to be free, so we gathered around the dinner table at Olive Garden, without planning it or having to go out of our way to clear our schedules. We enjoyed a delicious Italian meal together and shared a ton of laughs. We hadn’t done that in ages and I echo my brother’s sentiment, “I love this.” It felt like a divine coincidence.

If that wasn’t enough, though, God brought us together again last night over another Italian meal (prepared by my talented Italian mother) but this time with the addition of my future brother-in-law. It was again, wonderful to sup, to laugh, to dream, and to celebrate another member of our family. What a joy!

In times like those, I know the Omniscient Creator of the Universe cares about little ol’ me. Love those moments. Have you had anything like that recently?

that little voice

i keep telling God that i want to hear Him.  as uncertainties arise all around me and i’m tempted to freak out because i can’t be in control, i ask, “Lord, i just want to hear You.”  i walk along the boardwalk and look out to the ocean, listening to the waves break along the shoreline.  i watch the birds scatter for food and call to one another.  i smell the saltiness in the breeze and feel the warmth from the sun on my cheeks.  and i expect God to open the heavens and speak to me audibly.  i’m like elijah.  

in the story, elijah was told to go stand on a mountain and wait for the presence of the Lord to pass by.  then there came a powerful wind, a mighty earthquake, and a glorious fire all with a majesty that you would expect the Lord to display Himself.  but He didn’t.  instead, He chose to reveal Himself in a faint, gentle whisper.

isn’t that like God, though?  not to come with brutal force and flashy displays.  that would make it too easy for us!  how could our faith grow?  He’s a gentleman, a respecter of our free will, and He invites us into intimacy.  could you be imagined being yelled at all the time by the one you love, instead of spoken to with hushed tones and whispers of love?

then it dawned on me that God is answering my prayer to hear Him all of the time.  my ears don’t pick up on His frequency but something inside my chest does.  

for example, i got in the car last week to drive the hour and a half north to calvary temple for elijah house and as i sat down in the seat something told me that i should get out my phone and put on a podcast now before i started driving.  i ignored it because i was running a little late.  fifteen minutes later, as i was about to get on the highway i reached into my tote for my purse to apply some chapstick… only my purse wasn’t in there.  i pulled into a little community and parked while i searched my tote and my car for my purse.  where WAS it??  i realized then that i had left it on the desk in my house.  and then i remembered that little voice i heard.  if i would have taken the time to put the podcast on before i left, i would have realized that i had forgotten my purse.  with my tail between my legs, i returned home, grabbed my purse, and began my journey again, now more than a half hour late.

this is only one of a few instances recently where my spirit has heard that little voice.  i’m certainly learning my lesson.

God is speaking to you.  are you listening?