Monthly Archives: May 2015

Ready or Not… It’s Summer!!

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Summer love. That’s all my kids and I have talked about for the last, oh, I don’t know, 60 plus days!! It’s our favorite. But then last week it hit me. My kids are about to be home every second of every moment, to which I know I will hear, “I’m bored” or they will hear me say for the umpteenth time, “Off the video games/computer- do something different.”

Last week was such a busy week! My daughter was taking all her finals, I felt really tired & sluggish, we celebrated the life of my brother-in-law because it would have been his 35th birthday and stupid cancer took him way too early, I realized by Thursday night that I should really do end of the year teacher’s gifts because I know what they do is incredibly hard and wanted them to know we appreciated them, my sons shoes are falling apart, holes and the bottoms are falling off, Joel’s backpack is literally not holding things anymore because the zippers been broke, Joel’s glasses are officially broke- arm off, and they all 3 are past due for eye exams and their dentist check up. My mantra last week, “One more week,” and then the one I’ve been saying to my kids all year long, “We can do hard things.”

So as I fumbled through printing tags early Friday morning, running to Wal-Mart for cookie dough (hey, it’s as ‘home-made’ as we’re getting this year), and I baked (yes, it counts) and showered, and tagged and tied, and delivered, and ended up picking my kids up early (hey, it was a major rain storm). I sat for a moment on Friday after the boys had been home for a couple of hours and heard those famous words, “Mom, what should I do?” To which I quickly replied, “It’s not summer yet. I’m not starting it until Monday, You’ll have to get creative.”

I love most everything about summer. I love the smores, the games, the jammies, the laid back schedules, the friends over, the adventures, the smell of sunblock, the watermelon, the beach, the swimming, the BBQ’s.

But I like to be ready for summer, and as ‘ready’ as I am to not make lunches or wash uniforms, or wake up to take them to school and pick them up everyday, I’m technically not ‘ready’ yet.

I was talking to my friend Cindy yesterday and we both feel like we’re behind, as if everyone has already signed their kids up for camps and activities (or at least it feels like it). And I’m not sure about your town, but around here, stuff fills up so fast! I don’t want to overfill our schedule, because I know we are going to be CRAZY with 3 weeks of camps in July for Big Red Ministries, but I also know there are some things they’ve expressed interest in that I would love for them to do.

It’s my personality to like to have beach & pool food ready, have meals planned out, have summer snacks available, have them signed up for a few fun things, have a summer calendar so everyone in the house knows what we’re doing, start the summer with a clean house & laundry done, and to have days for just rest. For some reason in this season, I feel so unorganized! And I like to have a summer reading list and my workout routine, and goals for summer writing/podcasting/speaking. And I want to add into my schedule time to write a book I’m working on. I don’t want to get to the end of the summer and say, “wish I had…” I know, I know.. I have issues.

So, summer starts Monday!

As I was feeling a bit overwhelmed (okay, a lot) on Friday, mentioning to my daughter that I still have so much I want to do before I say it’s summer, she said, “Mom, you don’t have to have everything done and organized before summer can start.”

And she is so right. Just when I feel like I don’t have issues with control anymore (pride, party of one), the Lord uses my 15-year-old daughter to snap me back into reality. I have to be okay with the fact that all my laundry is not folded yet, and that my piles of mail still need to be filed, and that I haven’t scheduled their eye & dental appointments yet, and that I don’t know or have my meal & snack list yet.

For the love.

Learning to let go of ‘the way I think it should be’ is hard, but the more I stress myself out about it, the less fun I am to be around, and the more time I’ve wasted just trying to control everything.  I know I can work on things as I go, and enlist my little summer helpers! And whatever doesn’t get done, well, there is grace for that!! The Lord is also dealing with my heart about lowering my expectations, because when you’re like me and you have so many expectations of doing everything, you end up not enjoying the stuff you are getting to do, because you’re so focused on that list!

Have a list but don’t let the list have you.

The most important thing I can do is this…

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)- Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. This summer I want more of Him. If we get to the end of the summer and I’m closer to my family and closer to Him- all is well. It will be a great way to start the next season.

So here’s to letting go and being okay with imperfect, sometimes unorganized, and still learning… me. The good news is this- when I put Him on the top of my summer list, He redeems the time, He helps me to be present each day, and He brings me joy regardless of my circumstances. He reminds me that the most important thing this summer will be people- Enjoying my family & friends, and making beautiful summer memories right in the middle of the messy.

Repeat these ‘I ams’ after me:

  • I am NOT in control but I know Who is.
  • I am a beautiful mess, but I’m His mess. And He loves me, so that’s enough for me.
  • I am surrendering my summer list to Him. “Lord, your will be done.”
  • I am okay with being a work-in-progress. At least there’s progress.
  • I am going to be fully present this summer- by the grace of God.
  • I am inviting the Holy Spirit to interrupt my schedule.
  • I am all in…. let the games begin!!

What about you? Do you try to be super organized or do you like to just go with the flow or are you somewhere in the middle? What summer prep do you like to do? Are you planning some fun adventures with your kids?

Blessings on you and your family and… Happy Summer!

Celeste

Changed in the Closet

Young caucasian woman praying 

2 Kings 4:33- He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord.

Are you hot or cold? I’ve been following the Lord for 20 years now. It seems like just yesterday I was being water baptized by my dad in a swimming pool, yet it also feels like it’s a million miles away in my memory. And through the years my relationship with the Lord has gone through many seasons and many valleys. I often found myself frustrated that I could be so on fire for the Lord in one season and grow icicles the next. Why do I sometimes feel so fickle in my faith? Is this normal? Do many of us experience a similar struggle and feel shame in admitting it?

It’s like when you’re a teenager and you go to youth camp. You come back with such a fire and fervency for the Lord. You just spent four days hearing message after message, singing song after song, praying and being prayed for. It’s a spiritual high. But then you come back- down from that mountain. And weeks turn into months and you find yourself yet again wandering in the wilderness. What happened? I’ve heard it called the roller coaster of faith. We go up and we go down. Can we ever just stay up? Or perhaps somewhere near the middle? I am going to admit something to you today…

the struggle is real.

I admittedly have my mountain top moments where I feel incredibly close to Jesus. These moments where every time I sing a worship song at church I feel as if I might explode, or where every time I read the scripture I am just in awe. But then there’s the quiet meadows of my faith, where I am wrestling, sometimes struggling. It’s in these meadows that I ask myself, “God, are you still there?” “God, do you still hear my prayers?” “Lord, I need to know you’re with me.” And it’s in the meadows of my faith that I find Him. We need the mountain top experiences just as much as we need the meadows.

Think about a strong marriage. Some of the strongest marriages I’ve admired will tell you this secret- they’ve had to fight for their marriage. It didn’t come easy and it only got harder when they stopped working on it and hit cruise control. These couples have fought, wrestled, and struggled together- but as they worked through their marriage they found a deeper intimacy; a new level of trust. That’s how it is in our walk with the Lord. On the other side of our struggle we find out He really is faithful. As we wrestle with our faith our intimacy in Him grows and we learn to trust Him even more.

My Secret. I could tell you my top five quiet time ideas, I could give you a list of Bible reading plans, or I could even give you a quiet time formula that might work for you. But honestly, there’s one thing, one place that I keep going back to after all of these years. And that is my closet. I know, you were hoping for something a little deeper, right? But my closet is where He reveals the deep things to me. My closet is where I sit in the quiet and in the dark and wrestle with God. When I come out, I’m changed. Literally. But doesn’t God hear us no matter where we pray? Of course. But there’s something about going in and closing the door behind you, where it’s just you and God. A place where there are no distractions and you line yourself up to listen once again to that still small voice.

He continues to draw me in. Through my 20-year journey of walking with God, I have lived in many different places and I’ve had many different prayer spots. And lately, for the first time in a long time, I’ve had the whole house to myself in the mornings. But I keep going back to my closet. He draws me in. Sometimes I read my Bible in there. Sometimes I listen to worship music on my IPhone. Most times I pray and cry out to Him. Sometimes I ask the Lord to speak to my heart and then just sit and wait. I’ve done the ugly cry where I confess that I am just desperate for more of Him and I don’t want to leave until He shows up. The closet is a place of changing more than your clothes. It’s not only a place where my outer man gets changed, but it’s also a place where my inner man is transformed and renewed.

The Secret Place. Matthew 6:6- But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Most of your most intimate moments will be done in secret. We tend to think that the most important parts of our lives are the parts that everyone sees- meetings, church events, social media stuff, sporting events, conferences, public ministry stuff, etc. But truly, the most important stuff happens when it’s just you and God. Everything in our life will flow from that.

Distractions are real. Now just entering your secret place isn’t going to be without a fight in itself. We all struggle with the distractions going on in our thoughts, things going on in our lives, or perhaps even our to-do lists. Sometimes I feel like I’m the queen of distractions! It takes discipline and not being so hard on yourself when you loose focus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in my prayer closet and my mind starts to wander, and I’m like, “Lord, I am so sorry… where were we?” “Help me to re-focus on you.” Here’s the thing- He already knows us and knows we are easily distracted. He understands us. Isn’t that cool? He gets us. He knows our hearts. He loves us, and even more than we want to spend time with Him, He wants to spend time with us. We are His and He loves us so much! We were created for intimacy with Him.

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Truly, our reward for seeking Him in that secret place is intimacy with Him. (CLICK TO TWEET) There’s nothing better. That’s the reward for the struggle. He says in His Word that He will reward us. Our secret life is so important to God- He sees everything. Everything. And He loves us so much that it pleases Him to reward us. He knows it takes faith in Him to come to Him. Hebrews 11:6- And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Matthew 6:4 (NLT) Give your gifts in private (secret), and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. 

Matthew 6:5 (NLT)- When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

Matthew 6:18 (NLT)- Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private (secret). And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says this about being rewarded for what we do in secret, “When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives abundantly to his son that serves him.”

So today, I encourage you in your faith. Get away with Him and get changed!

Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not where you want to be in your walk with Him.

We all go through rivers and valleys. If it’s been a while since you’ve snuck away just to talk to God, today is good day. He loves you with an everlasting love. He is waiting with opens arms.

Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #livefreethursday

Rebuilding These Walls

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There are going to be seasons in our lives where God has to rebuild our walls. What do I mean by this? There are some things in our lives we’ve built on solid foundation, but there are other things in our life on that are on shaky ground. When the Lord is preparing us for something or doing something in our lives, He’ll often have to tear down some walls in order to rebuild, so that our foundation is found in Him.

Psalms 119:28 (The Message) Build me up by Your Word.

Acts 20:32- “Now I commit you to God and to the Word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

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What Holds Us Back From Our Dreams Part 2

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In this podcast I continue talking about those things that hold us back from our dreams. The ‘what-ifs’, our negative thoughts, and our past. In this podcast I also share some of own my personal testimony. The enemy does not want us to dream because when God gives us a dream, and we step out, He gets all the glory and lives are changed. May God speak to you this week about some things He’s asking you to step out into.

Romans 8:28 (NASB)- And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Wherever You Are, Be There

Family Enjoying A Barbeque

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalms 16:11

 It’s that time of year.

Graduations, endings, good-byes.

Beginnings, new seasons.

Recitals, parties, end of the year gatherings.

A little advice?

Be there. Be in the moment.
Stop rushing around just trying to get through to the next event.
Be here- with those you love.

As the school-year comes to a close, cherish those memories.
Be happy for what was and the many lessons along the way.
Feel free to camp-out in gratitude for these moments.
They’re growing up. They’re getting bigger.

The most common phrase I’ve heard all week is, “This year has just gone by so fast.”
And I’m sure we will all say it again next year.
I don’t want my mindset to be, “I can’t wait until…” Until all these events are done, until I can just do nothing, until everything is finished, until… until.

Or else I’m just going to miss this moment. And our lives are made up of these moments.

I’ll have plenty of times for pjs and slowing down later. Right now I just need to be here. Because this is what it’s all about. When I’m feeling rushed and getting ready, oh, that I would take a moment to remember what it is I’m getting ready for. I’m blessed to to see them grow, excel in school and sports, and walk across the stage. Lord, may I never take this for granted.

So enjoy those banquets, graduation parties, award ceremonies, and end of the year field trips and recitals. Because we wake up one day and wish we hadn’t just tried to rush through everything so we could work on getting other stuff done. I believe we’ll wake up one day and realize the work will always be here, the projects will always need to get done, our job will always be with us, but our family, our kids, they won’t always be this size, this age, this height, and they won’t always be with us. They will move on.

This is the important stuff.

Be there- Celebrate those you love and don’t take today for granted.

The Lord is dealing with me about not rushing through this life just so I can check things off of my list (although I realize it must be done).

I let my son invite a few friends over for his birthday. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a really long day. I got maybe 5 hours of sleep, been up since 5am getting ready for our yard sale, was out in the heat all day, and then took some huge loads to the thrift store for donations. I was a tired mamma. But I didn’t want to miss this. I wanted to be all here. Everything else (including my tired feet) could wait.

As I sat by the pool and listened to them jumping and diving and playing shark and football, I just thought to myself, this is it. Don’t miss this. Listen, feel, respond. As I sat under the moons light and felt the cool breeze on my face, my heart could have burst that night. I sensed His still small voice.

The Lord’s been speaking, saying, “Slow down, enjoy the people I’ve placed in your life.” Life is like a slow cooked meal. It’s not meant to be inhaled; it’s meant to be savored and enjoyed.

Being intentional. I want more of that. More time to sit and soak; more time spent with other people; more time to just love on my people and be loved by them and to savor events, endings, and new beginnings.

And as summer is upon us, I hope we all slow down, read a book, quiet ourselves before the Lord, enjoy our family and friends, and allow the Lord to speak to us through our experiences.

He is good. He is love. He is in the midst of the celebrations and barbeques and the get-togethers. He walks across the stage with your child graduating. He is warm and present when our child is honored for a job well done. He is at the table with us when we’re sharing our stories and breaking bread as the sun lowers. He is at the beach with us when our toes are in the sand and we’re building sandcastles with our children or running through the waves.

We can’t control time or make it speed up or make it stand still. Tick tock. The only thing we can control is our response to time. And I want to be all in. All here. In the happy moments and in the hard. I need to feel them both, because the hard moments make me absolutely relish the good. And in it’s own strange way the hard becomes my teacher in a classroom I never meant to visit.

May we live our lives giving those we love our attention- not with mere words, but with eyes and touch. May we be here, even when we don’t feel like it, even when it’s hard and our days are long. Just show up, because it’s in the showing up that He meets us. (CLICK TO TWEET)

 There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you. Deut. 12:7

Stay The Course- Featuring Brave Journal

Katie Reid Brave Journal

My friend, Katie Reid, wrote an article on God-Sized Dreams from the ‘Staying the Course’ series where she shares about having a place and space for your dreams to fly. She wrote a great post about dreams and shared about journaling. We also did a giveaway for one of my Brave Journals!

She wrote, “Be Your Best Brave is a focused journal by Celeste Barnard. It contains verses and quotes about bravery and lots of inviting space to pour out your hopes. This journal is an inviting landing place for those dreams that keep you up at night (no, it’s not water-proof for those shower epiphanies but you can put it next to your bed for the 3am revelations). Celeste encourages the dreamers in all of us to move forward, one brave step at a time.”

To read article in full go to God-Sized Dreams!

To order a Brave Journal go to Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Be-Your-Best-Brave-Journal/dp/1501036823/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430223635&sr=8-1&keywords=Be+Brave+journal

What Holds Us Back From Our Dreams- Part 1

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In this episode I talk about the things that hold us back from our dreams. We’ve all been given different gifts, talents, and abilities. And God will place dreams in our heart, but there are things that keep us from seeing those dreams fulfilled. This is Part 1. Enjoy!

Zechariah 4:10a (NLT)- Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…

“Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.” Henry David Thoreau

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Middle Before the Miracle

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In this Podcast I share a message from a women’s event I did. I share from the story about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found in in Daniel 3:16-28. Sometimes we have to walk through some fires, but God will walk through the fire with us and deliver us unbound and unharmed. There is a blessing in a fully surrendered life.

John 16:33-“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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