When Mountains Won’t Move

 

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I’ve had several requests for help this past month, some really fun opportunities and others that were heart-breaking pleas for help.

One was extremely hard to say no to, due to the sadness of the situation, but I knew with everything in my heart that I needed to say “no”.

It was such a difficult thing to say no to, that afterwards, I crawled into the shower and sobbed.

It is excruciating to say “no” to people.

People with very real need, people with very tender hearts.

And that’s really hard, especially when you know that you could change the outcome of the story.

That with God’s help, you could move mountains.

 

And yet, I hear the Father’s heart saying, “No, not this time.”

 

Why?

Why would God say no to something that is very much in his power to give through another person?

 

Because there are some journeys that were meant to be taken alone with only him.

Those mountain roads that only He can navigate with you.

No person, no church, no gifting can ever replace that.

 

I think sometimes, that it can be a good thing when our churches and the people in our lives disappoint us.

It’s a healthy reminder that at the end of the day, you and I are just people.

But I can only imagine how hard it must be for God to delay things that are in his power to give.

He is still the God who heals.

He is still the God who is with us in our loneliness.

He is still the God who sees and knows and is all powerful.

 

But sometimes He doesn’t come through like we hoped.

And sometimes the Christians we know, and the churches we attend don’t come through the way we thought they would.

And this is hard to swallow, whether you believe in God or not.

Disappointment is never easy.

 

But disappointment can be an opportunity to make room in our lives for God to be God.

Not the idea of a grandiose God who hovers above us, punishing us for our sins.

But a God who loves us better than we know.  Who loves like a Father and gives us his best, even if it might cause us to misunderstand him.

It’s about making room in our lives to tell God things that hurt us and that disappoint us.

And for those of us who have been through a season like this – it is one of learning to let go.

Learning to let God do what only he can do in the lives of those we love.

To step back, and not be the hero of the show.

To let him do what only he can do.

Remembering that he is faithful and able to be trusted.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: “Mountains” by Skeeze, Permission through C.C. by 2.0

 

 

 

 

Humility

Humility

Pride is a funny thing.

For that matter, so is humility.

They aren’t quite what I thought they were.

On some surface level I had a general idea but if I was going to be real honest with you, I don’t know if I could have told you why God hates pride so much.

But I’m in the know, now.

You want to know too, don’t you?

Okay, but you owe me a latte or something.

 

God hates pride because. . . (drumroll, please) it’s a relationship killer.

 

Yep, that’s the big secret.

God hates pride because it breaks down authentic, heart connections.

And on the flip side, God L-O-V-E-S humility because it promotes very real, very close relationships.

 

So this got me thinking.

What the heck is humility anyways.

And I don’t mean a definition out of the dictionary.

I mean if I take humility off the rack, what does it look like on a person?

 

 

It’s not self-depreciating.

If you’re good at something, own it.

No, seriously.

I told you, humility is not what we think it is.  When we self-depreciate ourselves its so we LOOK humble, but inside we are high five-ing our awesome selves.

Might as well just get it out in the open.

Besides, self-depreciating yourself is no laughing matter. . . unless you’re a writer then it’s just plain funny.

 

It’s not comparing yourself to others.

It’s like those old Nintendo racing games.

Every car had some pluses and some minuses, which kinda all evened them out in the end.  We’re all in this race together, except if you had the cheat codes, then your car was definitely the best, but if you have cheat codes, you owe it to the rest of us to share the love.

 

It takes time to rest.  

Whoa.

Hold up.

What does rest have to do with humility?

I know, right?  I was thinking the same thing.  We could be besties, the way you read my mind.

Rest is the simple act of acknowledging that hey, maybe I’m not Wonder Woman after all (or Superman, you choose.  They’re your tights).

And yeah, I’m human and I have needs.

Like a couch, some Netflix and a bag of Doritos.

Don’t knock it people.

Doritios, right there on the bottom of the Needs Pyramid.

What?!  It’s not there.

Well, they should be.

 

Humility is a team player.

It’s open to hearing new ideas. . . like putting Doritos on that dang Needs Pyramid.

 

And humility is okay with saying “no”.

Not to Doritos.

Humility would never say no to Doritos.

 

And maybe the most defining mark of humility is this. . . it’s cool being itself.

Humble people are comfortable in their own skin.

You know, like your grandpa when he wears his tank top and boxers with socks rolled up to his knees.  You know what I’m talking about – that is a man who is secure in his own skin . . . and fashion choices.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline

Colossians 3:12

The Message

 

I could use more humility in my life.

I could do with less comparison of what I think I should be.

I could do with more rest.

I could do with more saying “no”.

And I could definitely do more with just being me.

Maybe you could too.

We live in a world full of causes and needs – and we will get to them.  We will, because God has poured his spirit into us.  Those things won’t get left undone.  But in all of our doing, lets not forget that we are people and not vending machines.

Maybe that’s the truest mark of humility.

That we remember that we are human.

 

Love you,

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Anxiety much?

I’ve been feeling anxious lately.

It’s that obnoxious type of anxiety because I once had peace – a lot of it and it feels like I’ve misplaced it somehow.

Doctors have run tests and scans and I am perfectly healthy by all accounts.

But I could barely function.

Peace, joy, and a host of other good things were seeping out of my life and I couldn’t understand why.

I was being the mom my kids needed.

I was being the worship leader that my church wanted.

I was being the wife that supported my husband.

I was being the daughter I should be.

I was being the friend that was always available to listen.

I was doing all the things I thought God wanted me to do and be.

All of these roles serve people I love. And I am passionate about being all of those roles- mother, worship leader, wife, daughter, friend.

But all of me was hurting.

My body.

My mind.

My spirit.
Let me just say, not a single person asked me to be something I’m not.

 I did that all on my own.

I’m driven by nature and sadly sometimes still find my worth in what I can do rather than who I am.

Relate much?
Am I called to be all of those things.
Wife.

Mother.

Daughter.

Worship Leader.

Friend.
Absolutely.

So since last Fall, I’ve been muddling through what life should look like for me, because I don’t want to be that exhausted again.  Ever.
But thank God for good friends and strong coffee.
I have a friend, and musical mentor extraordinaire, tell me that she felt like God was telling her that I was taking on too much.

That was what God gave me as my starting place and like I said, the past 6 months have been a painfully slow learning process.

So what’s the secret of juggling the demands of life without losing ourselves in the process?

For me, it’s been learning about boundaries and rest.

Really practical, I know.

But sometimes the most practical words are the most spiritual and more importantly, the ones that God is speaking in the moment.

“Stress was hurting me physically and emotionally. But the Lord also began to show me that stress was hurting me spiritually. I was allowing the external pressures of life to affect my internal peace and joy. If I didn’t make some major changes, I was never going to fully enjoy the life Jesus died to give me.”
Joyce Meyer 

from her book “Overload”

I’m hoping to blog more on this- because it’s important.

It’s important to remember to have some fun in this life and that we are worth far more than what we produce. 

No

 

I am so loving the word “no” right now.

I would sing it like a choir boy if I could.

Do-Re-Mi-NOOOOOOOO.

 

 

“No” is the word that God gave us as freedom from distracting thoughts, over busy schedules, expectations to be something we are not.

I’m not talking about character issues.

I’m talking about feeling anxious all the time.

I’m talking about being afraid that we are not being who others think we should be.

Maybe even, who we think God wants us to be.

 

Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

(The Message)

 

Stingy and lavish.

So the moral is we should give more and not less right?

 

I don’t think that’s what it means.

Plus it’s all followed up with “God loves it when the giver delights in the giving”.

I think it’s about our motivation.

 

It comes back to heart.

I’ve had moments where I have given lots out of a stingy heart, because it was what I thought was expected, and I’ve given little with all of the love I had within me.

God was way more excited that I was excited about the little than the lot.

 

Geez, if I’m honest, I can’t remember the last time I was excited to give of my time or my money or my prayers.

I just got in the habit of giving because it’s what we Christians do.

But this burnt out girl is learning, it’s not enough to just give.

God wants us engaged in our giving- from hearts that overflow.

He’s asking us,

Why do we do what we do?

Do we give because we want to?

Or because we think it’s expected?

 

Which brings me back to my Sesame Street rant on why I loooove “No.”

“No”, protects our hearts and our motivations.

So if we are going to have and keep big hearts towards people, we have to be able to have and keep our big “no’s” towards the things that would cause us to feel less than delighted in our giving.

That’s really hard because it hits right at the heart of what people will think of me.

Yeouch.

I know, it’s hard to say no.

We want people to think that we are the awesome people we know we are- but sometimes the most awesome and sincere and honest thing we can do is nicely say “no”. It keeps our hearts from resenting people and it keeps what flows from our hearts pure.

“No” gives us rest.

“No” gives us breathing room.

“No” gives us space to really discern our own hearts and God’s.

 

So, not that you need it, but if you were looking for someone to give you permission to say “no”, I’m saying it.  Say “no” to things the things that have been slowly killing your joy and your relationships with others.  Say “no” to the false expectation to be something you’re not.

Because here’s the best part, in the “no” we have more “yes” for each other and for a God that loves us enough to give us a word like “no”.

 

 

 

Website: www.joyceackermann.com

Twitter:@joyceackermann

 

As featured on. . .


Thank you to Brenda Anderson for featuring me on her blog.  Please be sure to check it out at http://brendaandersonbooks.com/2017/01/16/spotlight-joyce-ackermann/

Or on Twitter @BrendaSAnders_n

Epiphanies Change Everything. — Graham Cooke.

http://brilliantperspectives.com/epiphanies-change-everything/

In the waiting

 

In The Waiting

Hold on to your promises, even if they feel a little tattered and torn at the moment.

God moves in seasons.

 

Why?

 

I’m not sure, but I think sometimes that farmers must understand God better than us city kids.

 

There are seasons when we are waiting on God to blow on our dreams and to answer prayers.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Waiting.

 

 

My friend Praveena and I went out for dinner a couple of months ago and she said in her usually brilliant way, “God is teaching me how to hold onto my dream without having any casualties in my relationships along the way.”

Wow.

Doesn’t that sound like the God we know.

The one who wants us to have our dreams.

The one who loves people.

 

The one who wants us to learn how to do both.

Have our dreams and love people.

 

In the waiting, we’re learning how to do just that.

 

Maybe it goes without saying, but waiting is hard.

Correction.

Waiting is really really hard.

 

God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.

In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bride-groom’s here! Go out and greet him!’

The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’

They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’

They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.

Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’

He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’

So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.

Matthew 25:1-13

(The Message)

 

We read this verse a lot when we talk about Jesus coming back, but I believe there’s a kingdom principle embedded in this story.

Those who have been wise to hold on to their oil, to not give away their hope and their faith in who God is, get to enter into the party with Jesus.

Why?

Because when the time comes, they have hope that gives them light to see and discern the opportunities God brings our way.

These are the ones that held onto believing the promises of God, even when it felt like you were just holding on by a thread.

It still counts.

Remember Jesus said, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed.

And a thread is bigger than a mustard seed.

 

So hold on to your promises, even if they feel a little tattered and torn at the moment.  God is good and he always comes through for us, the ones he loves.

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Photo Credit: “Sparkler” by Unsplash, permission through C.C. by 2.0

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I gotta admit, I’m writing this to you a few days early.

But I wanted to make sure you knew I was thinking about you and wishing you an amazing Christmas – full of uncomfortable hugs from distant family members whose names you can’t remember, ugly Christmas sweaters, and of course, lots of laughter.

So I raise my glass to you and pray  that Christmas leaves you giddy with the discovery that you are more loved than you know.

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A Few Gumdrops Short Of A Gingerbread Train. . .

A Few Gumdrops Short Of A Gingerbread Train. . .

I’m not a control freak about everything, just the stuff that matters – oh, lets say for example, like if my kids and my niece made a very cool gingerbread train.

 

Ok, I’m a control freak.

I admit it.

But I can change if I have to, I guess.

I’m not a control freak about everything, just the stuff that matters – oh, lets say for example, like if my kids and my niece made a very cool gingerbread train.

 

Let me back it up – – this very cool gingerbread train I’m talking about.

 

I – I mean, we, we actually did pretty well during the construction phase.

 

We even got the dumb thing to stay standing, which is like a first ever in the Ackermann household.

It was like Olympic Gold.

 

And we managed to decorate our train so that it pretty well resembled the box, yeah, that’s right Wilton, we nailed it!

I even got the quintessential cute picture with the kids standing with the train.

 

So what’s the problem?

 

My four year old ate the candies right off the train when no one was looking.

 

Even the gumdrop buttons.

 

Not the gumdrop buttons!

 

Yes, even the gumdrop buttons!

 

I kept my cool.  I didn’t freak out – there was a minimal amount of nail biting and pacing, but all in all I held it together.  I made a plan and relocated the gingerbread train to the higher altitude of the kitchen counter.

 

And it was right about this point when my hubby started raising his eyebrow at me, silently questioning my internal distress about gumdrops and a cookie train.  I realized, I was being a teensy weensy bit of a control freak.

 

She’s four, I tell myself.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Okay, fine – she’s a kid, but if this happens when she comes home from college for visits, there will be words.

 

The hubby says, the point of making these things is to eat them.

I thought the point was to get it standing.

 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life

Philippians 4:6-7

(The Message)

 

I think that’s God’s way of telling us to chill out.

Enjoy the ride on the train of life – even if someone ate all your gumdrop buttons.

 

So here’s to you and your brood this holiday season!

May it be restful and fun!

 

(In full disclosure, I’m not the only one with issues in my house.  The hubby hates that our kids catch snow and eat it – he says it’s full of pollutants.  But seriously – what kid doesn’t eat snow?!  Yeah, that’s right, who’s not the only weirdo in our house now?)

 

“Cookies” by  kaboompics licensed by Creative Commons by C.C. 2.0

Never Alone

Never Alone

So what’s the cure for the loneliness that hits at the “happiest” time of the year?

 

It’s the holidays, which for a lot of people means fighting loneliness. . .alone.

 

For some it truly is being alone, with no one to commiserate with about the runny mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner with the in-laws or the long lines at the mall.

 

But for most, it is fighting the onrushing tide of feeling alone in a crowd.

Feeling unseen.

 

It’s the ugly side of the hustle and bustle during the holidays.

 

So what’s the cure for the loneliness that hits at the “happiest” time of the year?

 

Ugly Sweater Parties?

(Uhhhh, lets hope not!)

 

Friends?

 

Family?

 

Taking cheesy holiday pictures?

 

I think it’s simpler than breathing in the moment of the holiday cheer and hoping that some of it will infect you.

 

I think the answer lies in pressing the pause button on life.

 

Taking a deep breath.

Knowing you’re not alone, even if you feel like it tonight.

I’ve got nothing to say, no verses to type, no advice.

Just a hug from me to you.

 

And a thought.

 

Maybe Jesus came for nights like this.

Nights when we need a friend.

Nights when we feel alone.

 

Wherever you are, you’re in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

 

 

“Lights” by Tabeajaichhalt is licensed by Creative Commons under CC BY 2.0