31 Days of Intentionality

Abiding Branches {Day 14 – Intentionality}

John 15 has been following me around lately… and I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s been the focus of two Bible Study’s recently, a friend reminded me of it the other day, and then Pastor preached on it this morning.  What I love is that I can also see so many connections to this focus here on the blog of intentionality.  My favorite connection comes in the word “remain” or “abide” found multiple times throughout the chapter.

Normally when you are intentional about something, you are actively DOING something, but here, the intentionality comes in the NOT doing… in ceasing the striving… in simply just being.

However, especially in our “go-go-go”, “hurry, hurry”, “do-this, do that” culture, actively not doing can be so much harder that doing.  Yet, the peace in intentionally letting go and remembering that we can do absolutely nothing without God, is so freeing and brings great joy.  We are created to bear fruit in our lives… and it has nothing to do with what we as the branch do besides simply remain connected to the Vine and seek His face in all things.

Praying that we’d all be better branches this week, simply abiding in His love and letting everything we do come out of that.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. … You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

31 Days of Intentionality, God-Sighting Saturday

“What else?” – God-Sighting Saturday {Day 13 – Intentionality}

It all happened so quick that one Thursday morning.  Right between breakfast and getting ready to head off to work.  It could have easily slipped away, and yet it didn’t.  It happened…. and it was beautiful.

I thought back to all those conversations in college with a mentor and friend who was intentional about the way conversations would end.  “What else?” he’d always ask… just to see if there was anything else you wanted or needed to share.  Again and again he’d ask until the awkward “I don’t know… nothing else I guess” would surface.  He never leaves a conversation until he knows you are done… you’ve shared what you need to share.

And on that Thursday morning, something prompted me to ask God the same question… to linger a little longer and make sure He was finished.  As I closed my Bible and got up to go on with my day after my devotions, I found myself sitting back down for a second and simply asking, “Anything else, God?”

And His reply blew me away and brought me to tears:

“Actually, yes. Thanks for asking.
I just wanted to remind you that I love you. Have a great day, my daughter!”

And to think I almost missed it.

31 Days of Intentionality

An Experiment in Intentionality {Day 12}

**Note: Opps… this didn’t get posted yesterday. I guess that means today is a 2-for-1 special. Here’s the post that was supposed to go up yesterday:

So today was what I’d like to call an “experiment” in intentionality.  The ironic thing is that this wasn’t actually planned going into the day, but sort of developed after it happened “on accident” a couple times. Oh, so you want to know the experiment?!?

After every task I completed at work, I took a few minutes to just pause, think of the blessings that had occurred in the last hour or so since my last “Blessing Break” (as they got to be named as the day went on), and then ask God for wisdom for the next task before me.  While praying and gratitude are often woven into my days, it was especially fun, to pause purposefully, not just “when I thought of it.”

Conclusion: The experiment  was a great success.   My stress level was down because it forced me to focus on one thing at a time.  I got a TON of work done, and done well…. and I found great joy in everything all day because I could see God in everything and was able to thank Him for His presence in each moment.  Lastly, in the moments where I got off track in my day and things took longer than expected, these pauses allowed me to see God in the interruptions as well as seek him for direction of how to adjust the rest of my day.

Can’t wait to repeat this experiment again and again!

31 Days of Intentionality, The 3: What I'm Learning...

The 3: October Version {Day 11 – Intentionality}

At the end of August, I started what I hoped would be a monthly series on my blog called “The 3” which simply includes 3 things I’m learning in life right now.  I missed September, but in an effort to be more INTENTIONAL, here we are near the beginning of the month for October’s version.

1. Obviously, I’m learning a lot about intentionality… what does it mean to live life on purpose.  I’m not going to go too in depth with this since we’re talking about it for 31 days.

2. Dependence. For a very independent girl, this can be a tough one. Yet, my biggest learning about dependence (at least when it comes to depending on God) is that it really ISN’T hard… in fact it is absolutely beautiful to be in a place of perfect trust and obedience.  It surely does tie in with learning #1 as it takes intentionality in order to constantly be depending on God, but like I said, life is so beautiful and filled with peace when I can do that.  It’s like the pressure’s off… all my job is to listen and obey and I can do this because I know God has my best in mind.

3. Laugh. A Lot. Whenever you get the chance. Just because. Why not? It makes life so much better. 🙂

There you have it… my current “3”.  What are you learning right now in your job, your family, your faith?

31 Days of Intentionality

Motives {Day 10 – Intentionality}

Have you ever been misunderstood?  You said something and the person listening took you to mean something completely different.  It happened tonight with a friend.  She was talking about “playing music” meaning playing it on an ipod where as my mind instantly thought she meant PLAYING music, like on a guitar or piano.

As funny as that was, many misunderstandings go much deeper than a slight different use of a word.  Have you ever said something and it just came across to the person in a completely different way.  Perhaps it was the tone of voice, or poor word choice, but you didn’t MEAN for them to be hurt by something or you didn’t MEAN for it to come out that way.  The thoughts in your mind and the words of your mouth somehow don’t line up with your motives.

That’s one (OF MANY) things that I love about this verse from Scripture, that actually talks about SCRIPTURE.  Look in close at the end… to what it says about thoughts and intentions…

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Sometimes I don’t even think WE know the intentions of our hearts.  We’re in one of those conversations, perhaps a misunderstanding has already occurred and the question appears, “Well what do you mean?”  And as we stumble around, “well… umm…. I…” we realize WE don’t even know what we mean.  Yet, we see here that God’s Word has the ability to discern between the thoughts and our intentions… between what we say and what we mean.  It gets to the heart of the matter and sheds some much needed light.

I can act like an awesome Christian on the outside, but do the intentions of my heart line up?  Or the opposite, is my heart in the right place but for some reason I just can’t get it together on the outside.  God knows.  And in either case, He loves.

And that’s what’s so beautiful about grace… even when my motives are crappy or my thoughts incoherent (perhaps like this blog post???) … God knows all that and yet, loves me anyway.  And not only does he love me, he uses me.

Truly baffles my mind. Motives… intentions…

31 Days of Intentionality, Prayer

Obedience {Intentionality – Day 9}

I’ve tried a couple ways to write the story I want to share tonight and it just won’t come out, partly because I am speechless in response to the amazing ways in which God works.

What I can say is that living with a focus on intentionality is changing me. Because of this focus I see God calling me to obedience more and more. And when I (by His grace, strength and wisdom alone) actually get my act together, the results astound me!

Intentionality comes with the responsibility and a call to obedience, for when we ask for open eyes and on-purpose hearts, He WILL call us to action. Not only that, but He will also show up every step of the way.

31 Days of Intentionality

Just ask! {Day 8 of 31 – Intentionality}

I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad thing (I think it really depends on the situation), but I’m a pretty independent person.  In addition to an independent personality, various situations in life have increased my need, desire, and ability to be independent. If there’s a way for something to be done, I’m determined to figure it out… and by all means, I don’t need your help!

The reality is, though, that we all hit points in life where we just flat out need help.   I can try to wish away my problems or ignore them for a while, but in reality, there comes a point when I reach the end of me and must reach out.

The last couple of weeks, God has given me MANY opportunities in which to practice DEpendence and put aside my determination for a while.  And I must say it’s an uncomfortable place to be. Yet, it has led me to trust God in some beautiful ways that are beyond my imagination.

So you might be wondering what this has to do with intentionality.  To be honest, I’m not completely sure of the connection either, but sense God telling me there is one.  And it has something to do with this phrase:

JUST ASK!

I can wish all I want that someone would change the way they are acting, but if I never mention that their actions bother me, how can I ever expect them to change.  A similar situation is true with God… I can wish all I want about something, but something shifts when I intentionally ask Him. He knows what we need, but, for our own sake, He wants us to ask; He wants there to be no question, that the answer is straight from Him and not just some “ironic circumstance”.

I got to see this in an amazing way today as this morning I finally just flat out asked God to restore my joy… something I’ve been “wishing” would happen for a couple months, longing for, desiring with all of me, but I don’t think I had ever really asked God to do that.  While I was content to wait for His answer, this time around, His response was pretty quick.  Tonight my joy was restored in a way that is beyond anything I could EVER have dreamed up…. and you know what else I realized?  He truly delights in giving us the desires of our hearts.  He just wants us to ask… intentionally.

31 Days of Intentionality

Intentional Sabbath {Day 7 of 31 – Intentionality}

I’ve learned and written a lot about Sabbath the last year or so (like here and here).  However, it’s a concept that keeps coming up again in conversation a lot lately.  It can easily seem like an out of date practice, or something only the “crazy” religious people follow. And perhaps I fall into that category, but even if that is the case, I don’t care, because I’ve truly fallen in love with Sabbath.  I’ve been reminded recently of just how beautiful it is. There are plenty of weeks when it is difficult to cease work and striving for that 24 hour period, but every time I do set that time aside, I cherish it so much.

As I’ve been thinking about intentionality the last week, I’ve realized how much intentionality has to go in to sabbath keeping.  In our busy 24/7 world, it probably is impossible for most of us to be able to take 24 hours each week to simply just rest and be renewed, to relax with family and friends, and be restored to our Creator.  BUT, with some intentional shifts in how we look at things, it IS possible.  It means some sacrifice on other days.  It means I have to spend some time before the Sabbath getting ready for the Sabbath.  If my house is a disaster, I will never fully enjoy my time of rest and fellowship with God and others.  If my to-do list is filled with “MUST do”s, I will justify away my sabbath time.  If I don’t intentionally move things that are considered “work” off of my day of rest, they will remain there and I might have to also intentionally move some times of rest off of the other six days of the week.

Yet, like I said before, I’ve found this to be one of the most precious and beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.  I like to think of Sabbath this way: it’s God’s chance once a week to slow me down and remind me who I am… specifically, who I am in Him… as He reminds me who He is.

Sabbath is a time to say, “I trust You with everything.”  It’s an opportunity to clear out all the lies I’ve believed of Satan throughout the week and have Him reorient my focus on Him for the week ahead.

And, like many good things in life, it takes intentionality.

31 Days of Intentionality

Intentional: ‘Cause Someone’s Life Depends on It {Day 6 of 30}

20121006-213526.jpgI just returned from our Crossroads Fall Retreat about an hour ago and so much that happened there made me think of intentionality. The biggest lesson perhaps came out of our time on the high ropes course. Our teens climbed up, down, and even upside down. They were amazing and every single one of them took at least a step or two outside of their comfort zones. It was AWESOME!

Over the past 5 years I’ve been trained on three different courses in three different states as a high ropes facilitator. While each course has slight differences, one thing remains the key focus… safety.20121006-213633.jpg

Each time a new person comes up to start the 50 foot climb, the system is the same: Is their harness on correctly? Is it on tight enough? Are all the straps looped back through to cover the read? Is their helmet on properly? Is the carabiner locked? Is the rope straight, untangled, and attached to me? Do they have a spotter? Do I have an anchor?

On and on the list goes and for good reason: someone’s life could depend on it.

It could be easy to assume that since you put their harness on them 5 minutes ago it’s still on correctly or that the knot is still tight because it’s been tight the last 8 times you’ve used it, but neglecting intentionality could be dangerous or even fatal.

20121006-213650.jpgThis has me thinking about what else could easily become “routine” in life but has some risk in allowing it to do so. Perhaps it’s our time alone with God each day. Slowly it becomes something to check off our to-do list, rush through, or even cross off as ‘unimportant.’ Easy to do, but dangerous.  Maybe for you, the risk comes in neglecting to connecting with friend and family members who are struggling and need reminding that they’re on God’s belay. What’s routine for us might be their only lifeline. Others might see a need to be more intentional in investing in their spouse. Their marriage could depend on it.20121006-213708.jpg

 

 

So what is it for you? Where could you be a little more intentional in life? You never know when a life could depend on it!