A Year of Yes

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

I recently watched the movie “Yes Day” with my kids. I was hesitant to watch it because I didn’t want them getting any ideas! The premise of the movie is that for one day the parents agree to say yes to everything their children ask. The parents set a few rules about how much money could be spent and a distance they could travel, but other than that the answer had to be yes.

The morning of the Yes Day, the kids enter the room with a poster board containing their 5 Big Asks that were to be revealed later. And the movie continues with a lot of foolishness and falls and family fun ending with a good lesson and maybe a tear or two shed. As I was watching this movie, I began to wonder if this is how we sometimes approach God.

We want a YES DAY from Him. And not just a YES DAY, but a YES LIFE. We want every request answered the way we want it and within our timeframe. I have a very active imagination so I imagine myself entering heaven with a bright green poster board, approaching God’s throne: “Here are my Big Asks for you, Lord. I want more money than I know what to do with. I want my kids to be smart and talented and get into a good college. I want my business to be booming! I want my marriage to be picture perfect. And can you please keep me healthy despite the trash I continue to consume everyday? Oh and I ask this in Jesus’ name, so now you have to do it.”

I don’t think any of us would really approach God like this. At least I hope not! But I wonder if he ever feels like we do? As a parent, there are times when I do. I have actually told my kids “Do not ask me for anything for the rest of the night!”. I don’t think God would say that; he’s far more patient than I am!

But as I thought more about this, I began to wonder what would happen if we gave a YES DAY to God? What if whatever Big Asks God had for us, we did them. What if when we saw the homeless person and felt the pull to buy them dinner, we did it? What if we prayed for the cashier at Walmart that is clearly having a bad day?

In September 2015, I was at a conference hosted by my church called “Say Yes”. If you haven’t been to a Women’s Conference, I highly recommend you try one out. It’s on my to do list for this year. But during the praise and worship, I clearly heard the voice of God tell me, specifically, He needed me to say yes. I can’t explain it but I could feel that whatever I would be saying yes to was going to be big.

Three months later, my husband asked if I would be interested in moving across the country to his hometown. I already knew the answer. I knew this was what God was telling me to say yes to. A few months after moving, my father in law/pastor asked me to start a Women’s Ministry at the church. I was terrified but I said yes.

I’m reminded of another woman in the Bible who knew what it was like to say yes. Mary, the mother of our Savior, was approached by an angel of the Lord at a very inconvenient time. She was preparing for her wedding to a carpenter and I’m sure she wasn’t expecting this interruption. But what began as an interruption became a life changing invitation.

Mary had questions. Oftentimes when we’re asked to do something for God we will have questions. Google has spoiled us! We can get the answer to any question in a matter of seconds. How tall is Jennifer Aniston? (She’s 5’5″, I know you wanted to know!) Thankfully, God is gracious and doesn’t want us in the dark. We don’t always get the full details but there are times when God tells us exactly what to do.

In the first chapter of Luke, Mary asks the angel how could she become the mother of the Messiah since she is a virgin. The angel tells her “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

Then Mary gave the answer I believe God desires from all of his children. “I am the Lord’s servant” (Luke 1:38). Now I don’t know anyone with a servant nor have I met a servant, but I do know that servants serve. Servants respond to the call of their master with yes.

One of our greatest examples in scriptures, the apostle Paul, who wrote almost half of the New Testament, opened many of his letters introducing himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ” (See Romans, Philippians, and Titus). And Paul was next level! He started churches, taught people how to live a God-centered life, proclaimed the gospel to the Gentiles, all this while being imprisoned, shipwrecked and victim to an occasional beating for doing these things to further the kingdom!

But like Mary, Paul knew the benefit of being a servant of God. They both knew that obedience was better than sacrifice. Servants say yes. Servants seek to please their master. Jesus himself came to serve. Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We don’t even have to give our lives for many, only to one. But I won’t lie to you. It’s becoming increasingly harder to say yes to the things of God. There are so many distractions that even 25 years ago weren’t an issue. We have to be even more deliberate about how we spend our time so we can give God our best yes.

Next week, I’ll continue this line of thinking with “Being Distracted from a Year of Yes”. There are things that the enemy uses, and not all of them are bad, that can cause us to miss out on the opportunity to give God a Year of Yes.

Building the Temple: Pt 3 Take Care to Prepare

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

My mom just flew in to visit the kids after Christmas. I had to buy some new sheets for the room she sleeps in because the old ones were well, old. Aside from this, I didn’t do much to prepare for her visit. Now, if I’m honest, I don’t ever take a lot of time preparing for her to come. She visits sooo much! And I’m glad.. she’s my kids’ best friend. She comes so much that she has a library card here!

But typically when someone comes to visit my home, I take some time preparing for them. Washing sheets and towels and probably doing extra cleaning that I don’t normally do, as if they’re going to under the shelf in my pantry! I stock up on groceries and coffee and try to have an idea of what to do for entertainment. If you’re like me, you make a list of everything that needs to get done before guests arrive. It becomes a part time job!

If we do all of this preparing for guests to stay in our homes for 3 or 4 days, how much more preparation should we make for the 365 days that each year brings? Now that the holiday season is winding down, we have a great opportunity to prepare our lives for the new year. Whether you have gigantic, almost impossible goals or smaller, more practical ones, I guarantee you will be more likely to succeed if you take some time to prepare.

It’s easy to make a list of what you’d like to see in your life, but the preparation comes in when you figure out HOW you will accomplish this list. “I want to read the Bible more” is a great goal for the new year, but it’s not enough? What time of day do you want to read? What books of the Bible will you read? How many verses will you read? How many chapters? I know it seems like a lot but if you don’t prepare for how you will carry out your plans, you are leaving your success up for chance.

When Solomon started building the temple, he not only followed the plans given to him by his father, David, he made other preparations. He gathered the people of Israel to seek God and gathered horses and chariots and all of the supplies necessary to complete the temple (2 Chronicles 1).

He wasn’t leaving the building of the temple of God up to chance. Look at what he said in 2 Chronicles 2:5. “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods.”

The temple that God has given us (our bodies) should be great. Our families should be great. Our finances should be great. Our relationships should be great. Our churches should be great. Why? Because our God is great! You don’t have to have all of the answers, because you can seek the God who has them. But you can take some time to prepare as best as you can and leave the rest to Him.

Happy New Year!

Building the Temple

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord should be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations. Therefore I will make preparations for it.” So David made extensive preparations before his death. – 1 Chronicles 22:5

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And yes, I sang that as I typed it! I really love Christmas time. For me, it’s the point in my year that signals it’s time to relax. I would say I go against the grain at this time of year that is usually spent bustling around to parties, stores and shows. A study in 2019 showed that 88% of respondents believed the holidays are the most stressful time of the year!

I have my yearly traditions of decorating, gift giving and fellowship just like most people, but I decided a long time go that I would not give into the belief that this time of year would be stressful. I’ve worked to be very intentional about centering our celebration on Jesus and his magnificent arrival into the world. That means saying no sometimes to the busyness that tries to creep in this time of year.

During this time of year, I usually spend some time reflecting on what has happened during the year. Goals I’ve completed and the ones that will carry over. Fun activities or trips with the family. I also spend some time starting to prepare for the next year. What do I want to see happen in my finances? My homeschool? My fitness? My faith?

One of my favorite quotes comes from Chris Voss in his book, Never Split the Difference. “When the pressure is on, you don’t rise to the occasion. You fall to the highest level of preparation.”

Every year, thousands of people write New Year’s Resolutions. I think what many people are writing is actually a wish list. By definition, when you make a resolution or resolve to do something, you are deciding firmly on a course of action. Resolutions should be more than just a cute list at the front of your planner. They should be accompanied by a plan of action. If you want to reach your goals, whatever they are, you have to prepare.

Every year, I prayerfully choose a word to guide my year. For 2021, my word was prepare. I wasn’t sure what this meant but knew from experience that God would show me throughout the year. This year, I committed to improving this blog, started a podcast and ran a marathon. I also have seen our homeschool blossom into a loving, calm, fulfilling environment that my kids are thriving in. But none of this happened accidentally. I began preparing for the change I wanted to see.

We are given a great example of this in the Bible. King David wanted to build a temple for the Lord but was told that his son, Solomon would be the one who would build the temple. Instead of being upset about what he couldn’t do, David began to pour himself into something he could do: make preparations for the building of the temple.

Over these last few weeks of 2021, I want to help you begin to think about where you’d like to see yourself this time next year by looking at the building of the temple in Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Let 2022 be the year that you prepare your temple inside and out for what God wants to do through you.