twenty-eighteen: resolutions {GUEST POST: Elise Morris}

As 2017 has come to an end, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on all of the good – and bad – that the year has come with. More than focusing on the past, I am looking forward to all that is going to come with 2018. However, I am making it a point not to stay in the past or look too far into the future, but to live in the here and now: to be present. With this mantra, I have decided on three resolutions I hope to carry with me through 2018.

  1.  Remember that Jesus is the Reason

As we come out of a holiday season that is always accompanied with the common “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” slogan, I have found that it is way too easy – and common – for us to leave Him there. The fact is that Jesus is the reason for everything. He came and He died for our sins so we could live. As Christians, we should be living our lives as a reflection of His love and sacrifice every minute of every day, not just at Christmas time. That is why I am making it a point to remember every day that Jesus is the reason we live.

  1. Give the Grace that has already been given

This year, I am committing to show everyone the grace that God has shown to me. Reflecting on 2017, I have found myself judging people all too often. In some cases, I will judge people I don’t even know and make assumptions about their character before I ever have a conversation with them. In other cases, I make judgments about people I know well based off of their actions or their words. However, I have constantly been reminded that Jesus died on the cross not only for my sins but for the sins of everyone around me. John 1:16 tells us that “out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” We have ALL received grace even though we don’t deserve any of it. In 2018, I will try my best to give the grace that Christ has shown to me to others, regardless of the situation or my personal feelings.

  1. Share His Love

The most important resolution I have for 2018 is to share the unconditional love of Jesus Christ with everyone that I have the chance to share with. If Jesus gave up His life for me, and shows me grace that I don’t deserve, I cannot help but tell everyone that I come in contact with. I want everyone to know the grace and love that He has to offer, and the joy that comes with being a follower of Jesus Christ.

In 2018, and every year following, I will be a light for Christ. Yes, I am human in a broken world where sin consumes every part of our life. Yes, I am going to occasionally – or often – fall short of my goals and resolutions. However, I follow a King who will never fail – a King who already rose and conquered. I know that with the power of Christ and the grace that He has given us, I can be a vessel for Him and share his light with the world.

Although these resolutions are very personal to me, I encourage and even challenge you to adopt them as your own. I challenge you to remember that Christ is the reason we live every minute of every day, show others the overwhelming grace that Christ has shown to each and every one of us, and share the gospel with everyone you meet.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

2 Peter 1:2

Happy twenty-eighteen, friends.

Xoxo,

elise morris

Imperfectly Planned is thrilled to share this piece by Elise Morris to encourage you as you start brainstorming resolutions for 2018.

On Imperfectly Planned, our 2018 Focus is {Intentional Living: Honoring HIM through our daily Bible study, routines, fitness regimen, and relationships.}

Email subscribe to Imperfectly Planned at imperfectlyplanned.com or find us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Join our journey to a life of intentionality this year! Can’t wait to connect with you.

Encouragement for the Discouraged Mother

My mother knew that in order to raise children who would choose to walk with Christ on a daily basis, she needed more than rules. She needed to be a living example of a woman after God’s heart.
Your children observe your lifestyle.
After all, it is a direct reflection of your heart. A lifestyle is seven days a week- not just the seventh day. Making the choice each day to submit to Christ can be difficult when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances, people (yes, even your lovely children), or anything else we cannot control.
Sometimes I feel like asking, “God are you really listening?” As my heart burns with a desire to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God and to be a solid Christian example for the little ones in my life, it seems insulting to let the thought cross my mind that I might need to jump back into the driver’s seat of my life and let Jesus take a break for a few miles.
           
I was reminded a few weeks ago of John’s doubts while in prison. In Matthew 11:3, John asked if Jesus was really, “The One who is to come?” Note, John had already baptized Jesus even though he felt he was “unworthy to touch His sandals.” John knew who Christ was. He baptized Him in the name of His Father. Lastly, in v. 2, John had heard what Christ was doing while he was sitting in prison.
Jesus never rebuked John for asking questions.
For wondering.
For maybe even fearing a little.
And Jesus will not rebuke us in the moments of life when we just can’t seem to grasp what He is doing and we do not know what we should do either.
           
When my heart is burdened and I can’t seem to release what I know He can hold, instead of bashing myself, I know I should remember how Jesus worked in John’s life. John found himself in prison for preaching the Gospel of Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy that he would be the forerunner of Christ. He did not stay caught up in his doubt-He continued to love like the author of love. He found faith in our awesome God to be all he needed, and he lived a life of devoted ministry to Christ.
“Truly I tell you, among these born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared..” (Matt. 11:11). 
God strengthened John to fulfill his calling in this life and He will strengthen you, too, as you fight the good fight to raise champions for Christ.
           
Your success as a mother is not dependent on your ability to bake the best cookies, to keep a spotless house, or to be liked by your child at all times. Your success as a mother will hinge on a consistent walk with Christ. Following Jesus will not exempt you from parenting woes, discouragement, or children gone wild, but following Him does mean you are equipped with the armor of God and perfect guidance and direction for each day as you raise your mighty warriors of God.
I encourage you to submit yourself to Him and be faithful to make decisions each day that place Christ at the center of your home. The fruit of God-fearing will grow and bloom in the lives of your children as they watch you trust in The Lord with all your heart, leaning not on your own understanding.

Guard Your Plans

Part of my morning routine includes praying over my plans for the day. Lately, I have found myself filling the pages of my planner with snippets from my meeting with God earlier that morning.

A few words. A few minutes of my time. A major impact on my day.

I am reminded what is most important: Serving Him who put me here.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life. It is equally easy to become immersed in things of this world rather than to stay focused on why we’re in the world to begin with. I sometimes find myself signed up for too many things, leading too many groups, or committed to too many personal obligations.

But why?

Because no one else signed up and the schedule was due. Because no one else felt comfortable leading and someone had to take charge. Because I hadn’t seen that friend in a while and felt like I should reconnect.

There is nothing wrong with signing up to serve on a committee, leading an organization, or taking personal time—until it becomes a distraction to our relationship with Christ. These distractions can continue to snowball, pushing God further and further away until we are no longer giving Him our first fruits but the leftovers.

I have chosen to align my heart with Christ, and I seek to honor Him in each block of my time. Therefore, I must be discerning.

In Proverbs 4:23, we are urged to “guard our hearts.” If my heart’s desire is to seek God’s will in my life and respond accordingly, I should begin with daily choices that reflect Him as top priority. When I am overwhelmed or exhausted by the things filling my schedule, I am not preparing myself to be a useful tool in the hands of an awesome God.

Saying yes to serving God means saying no to people, things, or activities that fail to build us up in Him. Where, how, and with whom we spend our time is a direct reflection of the posture of our worship and the state of our hearts.

I have realized that my day is more than lesson planning, meetings, organizing girls’ ministry, or writing. My value is not based on my performance as a teacher, Bible study leader, friend, or daughter.

As you glance over your schedule, introduce your plans to your Savior. Ask God to make it clear to you what is most deserving of your time. Be sure to take notes during your daily one-on-one conference with Him so that you can assess and reflect.

You may not get everything accomplished. That is ok.

You may need to say no to someone. That is ok.

When we get in the habit of prayerful planning, we will begin to notice that our attitude towards day-to-day activities shifts to desire a spirit of submission to the Father. While walking closely with the Prince of Peace, He will remind us of His plan and purpose for our lives.

Christians Against Culture

Christians aren’t better, just forgiven.

Is our goal to change culture, avoid it, or simply live and let live?

Christ-against-culture people see a clear and unreconcilable division between the goals of Christ and the goals of current culture. Jesus’ words and actions picture a new way of life, a way that is at odds with the status quo.

To pray, “Thy Kingdom Come” is a petition of surrender, a letting go of the objectives of this world in favor of the way of God. You can’t look like the world and have a heart sold out for Christ.

We all fall short of what God wants us to do and to be. The forgiveness of Jesus Christ is radical, wide reaching, and life changing.

Jesus came preaching a gospel that set people free from cultural norms and for new life. The question before us is: Will we follow where Jesus Christ leads? Chances are, you won’t look like everyone else. You might even offend someone.

Jesus’ words speak directly to us. We are now the ones who carry the responsibility of living a life reflective of the gospel and sharing the gospel faithfully.

Just as Jesus challenged His first disciples to believe in Him and follow, so He challenges us today through His word.

God, is that you?

I so enjoy seeing God’s fingerprints across my calling to ministry to work with young women desiring to walk Biblically. Tonight I received a message from a dear sister in Christ. She simply stated, “I feel like asking, God are you really listening?”

I have asked that a few times in my own prayer life… and felt bad about it. As my heart burns with a deep desire to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God, it seems insulting to let the thought cross my mind that I might need to jump back into the driver’s seat of my life and let Jesus take a break for a few miles.

This is why it is CRUCIAL to know scripture. When Satan’s schemes appear in your life as ugly emotions, ungodly relationships, health difficulties, addiction, or fear, it is then that we must be prepared to walk confidently in the truth of the Word of God.

In this particular moment of my friend sharing her raw emotions, I was reminded of John’s doubts while in prison. In Matthew 11:3, John asked if Jesus was really “The One who is to come?” Note, John had already baptized Jesus even though he felt he was “unworthy to touch His sandals.” John knew who Christ was. He baptized Him in the name of His Father. Lastly, v. 2, John had heard what Christ was doing while he was sitting in prison. How often do you hear of Christ working boldly in someone else’s life and you wonder, “Ok, Jesus. When’s my turn?” Wow- that is a whole other lesson.

Anyways, Jesus never rebuked John for asking. For wondering. For maybe even fearing a little..

Jesus will not rebuke us in the moments of life when we just can’t seem to grasp what He is doing.

When our hearts are burdened and we can’t seem to release what we know He can hold, instead of bashing ourselves, we should reflect on the life of John.

John found himself in prison for preaching the Gospel of Jesus, fulfilling the prophacy that he would be the forerunner of Christ. He did not stay caught up in his doubt-He continued to love like the author of love. He found faith in our awesome God to be all he needed. He lived a life of devoted ministry to Christ.

“Truly I tell you, among these born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared..” (Matt. 11:11).

God strengthened John to fulfill his calling in this life. He will strengthen us, too.

I’d ask my Granny- she was very wise.

I’ll ask my grandmother. She is very wise.

What year did Jackson Brothers open?

Let me just tell you what happened today.

How much butter do you normally use?

Do you think he’d make a good husband?

You need to have a talk with her. I think she’s going silly.

How are we related to him again? Are you sure..

Who is in this picture? Where was it taken?

How old were you when..

I’ll ask my grandmother. She is very wise.

I would ask my grandmother. She’d know the answer. She knew everything. She knew everyone. She knew how to straighten everyone up, too. She always said I would be a good writer. We talked about writing a book together. She would have taught me so many things about history and those that create it.

I am left with many memories and lots of pages filled with her handwriting. I have learned about walking with Jesus, baking pound cake, passionately praying for those on mission, and speaking boldly. I have read sermon notes, tips on getting along with difficult people, and grocery lists. Some may see random pages, notepads, bibles, and cookbooks but I see a cracked window into the life of my grandmother whom I can no longer call.

Do you talk to your grandmother? Do you copy down her recipes or ask for tips on running a household? Do you take time to notice the little routines she has perfected through the years? I would love to know how my grandmother managed to keep her life together AND be so involved with ministry. She was brilliant.

I am grateful for what I have but I’d give anything for her to answer the phone tonight. If you are lucky enough to have a grandparent or parent who can answer today, lay your agenda to the side and appreciate their wisdom and presence in your life.

Granny, I loved my time on earth with you. See you on the streets of gold real soon.

In loving memory of Dorothy Tillman Yow; gone incredibly too soon.

 

This picture is a favorite of mine. My grandmother lives today in the life of my father. Kindred spirits. Wonderful, true servants of Christ. My heart explodes each time I see their faces.

depending on the grace of God; part one

Depending on the grace of God and finding my worth solely in Him has always been a challenge for me. From a very young age, I battled the effects of being determined to succeed in MY plan by MY strength. I still wrestle with showing God I don’t need grace by reminding myself of areas in my life in which I consider myself an overachiever by nature.

I am the best daughter. I am an awesome granddaughter. I take pride in both of these areas of my life. Neither one is sinful in itself- in fact, I am commanded by God to honor my parents. But why?? I am called to be a wonderful daughter and granddaughter for the purpose of furthering God’s Kingdom. Not my own.

My point in sharing this is to confirm how incredibly easy it is to live a life based on ME rather than HE. After you label yourself as an overachiever in any area of your life, it is really easy to find your identity in what you are overachieving in rather than in Christ.

The Gospel clearly states this is sin. As Christians, we are called to replace ourselves piece by piece with the character of Jesus. Only in full surrender do we live by God’s grace. However, I am not dismissed by God when I make a mistake. He made it possible through the gift of His son for me to live a purposeful, grace-filled life despite my sinful nature.