FOMO

Contrary to what you might think, our English language is not static. It is always changing; new words are added because of scientific development as well as societal changes and trends. Within the last few years FOMO came into common use and has been added to our dictionary some time since its origin in or around 2004.

What is FOMO you ask? For those of you my age who may not know, it stands for the fear of missing out. That feeling you get when you hear all your friends got together for a social event you were unaware of, or when you wait to make plans just in case something better comes along.

The term is interesting in itself – an acronym for the phrase that defines it. It is also peculiar in that who ever thought missing out on something would produce fear? This was the line of thinking which brought up the following question: Why is it that there are people we don’t ever care to hang out with, yet when we see them in a gathering with our peers we feel jealous or sad or left out?

This happened recently as I scrolled through a social media account. A picture rolled by of friends gathering. Although none of these were my close friends, somehow I felt left out. What? Why? It made no sense. I don’t even desire to be in a social setting with any of these people. Our values are different. Their humor more cruelly sarcastic than fits my tastes. And the times I’ve been around several of them, I go away feeling somehow sad and like I have been untrue to myself. Do you have acquaintances like that?

men-and-women-standing-infront-of-dining-table-1655329As I contemplated these feelings I realized how deeply the desire to belong, the longing to be a part, and the need for significance runs within each of us. That’s why the drive for success and social acceptance is so prevalent in our society. We all hunger to matter, to be known, to be in community with others.

Isn’t it interesting that God offers us that! Community! Family! When Jesus came to this earth He reconciled us to God, and scripture tells us He gave us the ability to become part of the family of God. The New Testament speaks of God as our Father, us as co-heirs (brothers and sisters) with Jesus, and of treating all believers as family. It’s as if God made us knowing we had this emptiness within us that would one day be termed “FOMO.” Ah surely not, He just created us you know.

What is Jesus’ cure for FOMO and all those left out, I-don’t-fit-in feelings?

Two things. He Himself, our Father, and His church, our family.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob,  he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:38

…Its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:25-27

He tells us He loves us, we are His, and we are invited to come to Him. To be a part. When we do come to Him, we find the unconditional love and acceptance and welcoming that we often lack from our human families, and we find that community of belonging.

If we take this to heart it will drive us to a deeper relationship with the Father. If we reject these teachings of His Word, we will find ourselves trying to fill these longings in inappropriate ways to drown out those feelings of FOMO, of lack of acceptance and belonging. So once gain we are left with a choice: to entrust our deepest longings to this unseen Creator of the Universe or to grovel around in the clay with other earthly creations living at the lowest level, covered in filth, and desperate for a Rescuer. What will it be?

Choose wisely. What appears to be meeting our need only meets the surface needs. And what seems it could not possibly be good – to face our desperation and lay ourselves at the feet of or Savior – actually turns out to be the point at which we experience God on a whole new level and find that He is more than enough to meet our deepest longings.

Perhaps FOMO is a term the enemy planted in our hearts to make us feel that God is holding out on us, just as the serpent did with Eve. Perhaps a mind focused on FOMO has no room and no energy to love its neighbor as itself. Perhaps our magnifying lens is focused at the wrong thing: self, not our Savior. Perhaps it’s time to quit buying into this mentality and instead have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5-9)

group-of-people-making-toast-3184183.jpg

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

                                                                                       – Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

Press In and Press On

I have a tendency not to remember.

I write to remember.

I write to empty myself.

I write because over the span of my lifetime I’ve learned writing is a good medium with which to express myself. In all honesty I do not feel that alone I am any good at it. I have come to realize and understand the words are a gift from the King. He gives the words, I just pen them, or type them actually. I am not even a good typist, but with time and practice I have become a better typist. I would say I am a 60 WPM gal, but I don’t peck at the keyboard like I once did.

For my birthday Scott Martin gave me a large print, extra-space-to-write-in-the-margins Bible.

I needed the large print so that I could make out the words even before my eyes were fully awake and functioning. She is a hefty thing. Larger print begets larger words which beget more pages filled. Despite her size I have grown accustomed to her clumsy nature. At present she is held together with a rubber band, her cover came off weeks ago. She is crammed full of stray papers, hand written notes, and an occasional candy wrapper turned bookmark. I tote her back and forth, she gets tossed around more than her fair share but she is truly a treasured possession. Despite all of her unique characteristics, it was her extra space to write in the margin which made her a perfect candidate to become mine. Scott Martin recognized in her something I needed, substantial note taking space. He knew I would appreciate that more-than-adequate note taking space to serve as a tool of remembrance, a place to jot down the things I did not want to forget.

Recently as I sat down to have my quiet time, I was seated at the kitchen table, Scott Martin was talking in the background and everyone else was still sleeping. (The early morning sun streams through my kitchen window and hits the table in such a way that I especially enjoy my quiet time when it is sunny out.)

That particular day, I was directed to read Psalm 5:1-3 and then I was supposed to answer a question about hopefulness and expectation in prayer.

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

As I looked in the space I noticed an imprint of my own handwriting, as I turned the pages I noticed it was present next to Psalm 8 and by the time I had gotten to Psalm 10 it timelapse-photography-of-falls-near-trees-707915was just beginning to be less noticeable. I flipped left until I found the original text next to Psalm 1. I had dated it, and written a note to myself about the home of William Faulkner. A friend of mine had been there for a visit recently and was telling me about the red cedars planted all about the grounds. Legend has it those cedars were thought to “cleanse the air and were planted to ward off a typhoid outbreak long ago.”

She read Psalm 1, with a focus on verse 3,

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.

I made note. I wanted to be like a tree, a cedar tall and straight, not withering beneath the foreboding conditions of this world. I wrote to remember.

The force with which I had written the original text and had pressed down so firmly, made its way onto the pages of the next 10 Psalms.
I laughed at what I had done.

My mantra these days is to “Press In and Press On!”

Press tight into the hem of King and Press On to the next thing.

The fact that I had pressed in so hard I’d marred the next 10 Psalms pages is not lost on me. I’d pressed down so hard with my pen, writing furiously in a time of desperation that the lasting impression was made and would not soon be forgotten.

bible-book-business-christian-272337.jpg

Embracing Change

When change abounds, focus on the One who never changes.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

This Christmas was different. Later Thanksgiving holiday led to an even later end of the school year. I had to wait for one, and then the other, college kid to make their way home. The two teenage boys left at home were knee deep in theater rehearsals and their own holiday celebrations. We waited until the last kid arrived just a few days before Christmas before we officially decorated. I’m usually the decorating Grinch, but this year even the Grinch was thrilled to see those tree lights twinkling. And this year the young man who is pursuing our daughter’s heart joined us for our holiday celebrations–that was certainly new. In the midst of this different year I began to realize Christmas would never be quite the same.

board-1273117_1280In many ways, this Christmas was an exclamation point to a long period of transition. Two years ago God began this season of new. First a dear friend and partner in the gospel moved a few states away. Within the year, another dear friend and her family moved across the country. Then a series of changes in three separate ministries I was involved in left me with a shaken soul. My personal world turned topsy turvy as one and then another of my children graduated high school and moved away to college. It often felt as if the Lord was sifting all those things in my life that I counted on when the world pressed into me. My places of security were being stripped away, and I felt unstable and weary, and, if I’m honest, a bit forsaken and a lot broken. It was an unusual grief. A grief it’s taken me quite a while to confess without being weighed down by the guilt of my own selfishness.

 

As I continue to walk through these seasons of change, I keep coming back to my bulwark verse. The verse I seem to constantly return to when life is hard. In an unusual grief, this verse is a strange comfort.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

This powerful verse reminds me of two vital things about my Abba.

  1. God gives good and perfect gifts. Psalm 18:30 says, “This God—his way is perfect.” Psalm 145 repeats this phrase, “The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.” If this change is a gift from His hands, then I can trust it is a gift from a God who is good, perfect, faithful, and kind. The Word makes it clear life won’t be easy (John 16:33; James 1:2), and I’m convinced the transient nature of our earthly existence is part of those trials and tribulations. Yet, we can rest confidently in the character of the One who orchestrates those changes. All of the changes that are happening have been walked through with fervent prayer. It is beautiful to see God put every detail in place. Even when my heart doesn’t want to cooperate, my mind can focus on truth. Over time, I am finding, my heart is molded to the shape of the truth. When I’m walking through the unknown, it is crucial that I set my mind on what I know (Colossians 3:1-3). There I can anticipate the future with joy and peace and confident hope.
  2. My God does not change. Malachi 3:6 says it bluntly, “For I the Lord do not change.” God is constant, even more constant than the sun rising and setting. He is faithful to His Word and always, always true to His character. The Lord, in His goodness and grace, is teaching me much about misplaced security. I depended far too much on my friends. I leaned against them, instead of leaning against my Abba. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus-loving friends and godly counselors are a gift, but too often I would run to them instead of seeking my Father first. It was easier and more comforting to receive validation from a trusted friend. It’s much harder to spend extended time in prayer, dig deep in the Word, and listen closely to the voice of the Holy Spirit. In this season of sifting, I am learning more of my own stubborn heart, learning to repent quickly, and learning to run to Jesus first and fervently.

My season of change is still in full swing. My oldest daughter graduates from college in the Spring and is heading out on a new adventure. My oldest son graduates high school next year and will set off on a journey of his own. My husband and I are asking the King how we can serve Him best during this season of new. And while I wish I could say I’m embracing change with a contented heart, truth is, it’s still hard. But I’m finding joy and peace come more easily as I focus on the unchanging One. When I focus on His constancy, He reminds me of His goodness and faithfulness and kindness. That causes me to place my security in the One I can always rely on to be the same yesterday, today, and forever. When I focus on what is true, I am reminded of this truth: As I am learning to embrace change, my Abba is embracing me.

board-978179_1280.jpg

 

Search Me, O God

person-holding-flashlight-during-nighttime-1444860

The beginning of a new calendar year offers a fresh start. Last year’s failures can be stored in the attic with the boxes of Christmas decorations, to be taken out as needed to evaluate and learn from. But self-evaluation is less important than an evaluation from our Creator. Psalm 139 speaks of this evaluation, this searching of our inner man by the Father, a knowing of who we truly are that we cannot control or hide from.

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lordand you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

He sees us, just as He saw Hagar in the desert. He knows us, not just by our appearance or personality traits, but He knows us more intimately and completely that we can even know ourselves. His searching of us is not for evil, but to show us who we are, who He created us to be. He created us so intricately and purposefully!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

And His thoughts toward us are precious! And He will never leave us or forsake us!

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.

We may be carrying grudges and seeking vengeance into this new year, but it is time to turn loose of that and turn it over to God to handle.

If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

Since we now He searches us already and knows us intimately, is it not time to invite Him to search us and reveal our true selves to us? Are we willing to invite His testing of your inner motives? Are we ready to face the the inner muck and offensive ways to get them all cleaned out? Are we ready to humble ourselves to be gently led by Our Shepherd?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Begin this new year with self-evaluation and goal setting if you desire. But more importantly, pray the prayer of these last two verses and willingly invite exposure of your whole self to the Father’s scrutiny that He may bring to light what needs to be shown and you may therefore follow Him more fully.

nature-3298691_1280.jpg

Dear God, Mommy is Mean!

IMG_0848

 

“Dear God, My Mommy is mean!!!” This was my granddaughter’s prayer on a recent Tuesday night when she did not get her way.

As I looked at the video monitor, I saw my precious little 4-year-old granddaughter on her knees by the side of her bed telling God about how mean her Mommy is. How many times does a Mommy have to say “This is the last time” or “don’t get out of bed again”? The problem was that I was rocking her baby sister and putting her to bed while her Mommy was getting the 4-year-old ready for bed. She wanted to come give me a good night kiss but her mother could see on the video monitor that the baby was asleep. 

Parenting is so hard, but so is grandparenting. Grandmothers want to kiss away all of the boo-boos and make everything right. Her Mommy let me go in to pray with her and tuck her in. She was not interested in praying about what she did wrong, but she wanted to make sure that God and I both knew what her Mommy did.

Then, as I tucked her in, she wanted to sing I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart. I thought this was cute and had to hide my smile. The principle is that she knew to take her problems to God. She had already been taught to pray and to talk to God.

This is a lesson that we can all be reminded of at any age. No matter what the problem is, we can take it to the Lord in prayer. He is interested in our life’s problems no matter what they are. The next time you get down in the dumps or life does not treat you right, bend your knees in prayer before the Lord. He is always there and will listen to the hurts of your day.

1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Jeremiah 29:12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

LET US PRAY!

Looking Through the Lens of Contentment

What is your word for the year?

How often do we get lured in by what looks good only to realize we’ve short-changed ourselves and gotten a worthless emotional fix at the expense of a truly satisfying yet maybe less flashy object? That must-have kitchen gadget that now sits gathering dust. Last year’s expensive fashion accessory you just put in the box to Goodwill because it’s out of style. The latest fad self-help book that was no help at all because you simply need Jesus, not a formula.

Distractions abound. We clutter our houses with stuff which takes time away from people. Bling entices us. The new movie release calls our name. Pinterest projects tempt us. Our long range “To Do” list gets longer instead of getting completed. Books pile up on the shelf and in the app waiting to be read. The latest diet or exercise fad promises a new us, new life, hope. We take expensive vacations, yet we return home needing to rest up from them. We feel the call to buy more, do more, get more, go more. More, more, more distractions!

man-walking-on-the-empty-street-3289156.jpgWe try to fill the emptiness in our soul with these distractions. We seek relief, escape from that dark, scary void. We long to matter. But an ache so deep cannot be filled by material stuff. These distractions are simply packaging popcorn we use to try to fill the gaps in our soul. What we really need is a relationship with our Creator which amply supplies all that we long for and brings self-acceptance and meaning to our souls. We need the Father’s perspective which yields satisfaction, contented lives of faith, and all one needs to face the road ahead without fear.

As I was seeking my Word for the Year this December, the Father surprised me. The word He gave me is Content. Not success, or joy, or hope or any of a number of great things. Simply, Content. As my flesh seeks for thousands of things to comfort and fill the void in my heart, my spirit longs to say with the Apostle Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

Have you learned that secret?

Contentment yields the strength we need because we are resting in Christ. In the very next verse Paul said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” And we can too. We can live contently in plenty or in want – whatever our circumstances are if we are content in Christ. Why? Not because we are denying our problems, but because as Paul goes on to say in verse 19, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Because we know that God Himself will meet all our needs.

Do you know that?

Do you have contentment? Are you seeking it?

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul again mentions contentment. He talks to his young disciple, Timothy,  about godly teaching, people who cause unhealthy controversies, quarrels, and strife, and people who seek financial gain. He reminds Timothy in verse 6, that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” So as we grow in godliness this year, let’s add contentment and experience this great gain. What gain? Maybe more peace. More compassion. More usable time because we aren’t bound up being a care-taker of all our possessions and close-up-of-eyeglasses-256273distractions. A greater ability to hear from the Lord as we sit in contentment at His feet. An ability to see with spiritual eyes the the direction to take on the paths before us.

Sometimes our physical eyesight gets bad and we need to get glasses. Uncertainty abounds from not being able to see clearly. Sometimes our spiritual eyesight gets blurred as well and we need a new lens to look through. Sometimes we are blinded by the glare of the world. Whether your vision is blurred or you need some sunglasses to see through the glare, contentment will be a new lens for you. Try it on and see if it doesn’t help.

Maybe contentment is a primary need of your heart, like mine. As you seek the focus you need for this new year, as you pick your “word for the year” or “verse for the year,” consider the word content. Look up the scriptures on contentment. It may be just the focus you need. It will definitely send you down a new path.

Whatever your word or verse is this year, please share with us in the comments below. Others may be encouraged by what you share.

binocular-country-lane-filter-focus-1421