What Does "Chosen-ness" Look Like in Daily Life?

If you missed the first post in this series, start here.

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [a]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you.

John 15:16

 Instead of accepting, acknowledging our chosen-ness we sometimes are like the toddler who lost his grasp on his helium balloon who walks around, head down, searching for it while it floats on the ceiling. Our chosen-ness is there, up there in God, not down here on earth in taking spa days and having luxury cars. When we put our self-worth in those, yes, it’s going to fail us and make us miserable. We cannot have self-worth without God-worth, that’s the way God created us. 

The Donut Man said it best. “Life without Jesus is like a donut ‘cause there is a hole in the middle of your heart.” Instead of focusing on choosing to fill our hearts and lives with Jesus, we may walk around empty and stuffing that hole with whatever we think will build our self-esteem. And we will fail. EVERY TIME.

What does “chosen” look like in daily life?

If you read all of John 15, there are some startling revelations about what it looks like to live chosen. First of all, a sign of being chosen is we bear fruit. As I apply this to my own life, I realize that if I’m not bearing fruit in the purpose God created me for, then I’m going to wither up and be miserable.

Being chosen means getting pruned. Have you ever used pruning shears to prune a bush or tree? You’re cutting parts off. Sometimes it means cutting little new growth called suckers. These suckers sometimes grow at the base of shrub and suck out nutrients before they get to the top of the plant. They are “wick” as Mary says in The Secret Garden but they are actually life sucking. Not life giving. Being chosen looks like pruning all the things out of my life that do not bear good fruit whether they seem “wick” or not.

I may be jumping around in the chapter a bit, just bear with me (get is? bear fruit, bear with me?) Another important sign of our chosen-ness is we “abide” or “dwell” with God. When I think of the word dwell, I think live. We live with God . We invite Him in to all parts of our lives. We depend on Him in all situations. He is our source. Our life-line. Sometime we fight our life-line like those times when I was in labor and I fought the oxygen mask because I was focusing so much on surviving the pain. We must remember, apart from Him, cut off from Him, we can do nothing. He is our oxygen. When our version of self-care cuts off our union with God, we will lead fruitless lives that don’t effect eternity in positive ways. Our treasure will be here on earth amassing material things or coddling earthly bodies that age, wrinkle , and pass away.

Your essence (who you really are and Were created to be) vs your personality (the armor you adopt to protect yourself in a broken world).

Your essence is the part that is made in the image of God. Essence is the part that is fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s the part God sees and loves and says is good.

Then we, adapting to a broken world filled with broken people, adopt a personality that puts up a barrier between us and God, and us and others, and us and our essence. And it causes all sorts of problems until we make our way back to our essence and live from there instead of from our personality. We end up looking for the balloon in other ways. We define and defend our personality instead of going back to our essence and our chosen-ness.

Chosen is not self-serving, it’s Christ serving.

It’s probably our own fault but when Christians begin speaking of self-care and chosen-ness, we get the wrong mental picture. We picture ourselves on a massage table being served fruit-flavored sparkling water. It’s okay to do those things, it’s not what chosen means. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Chosen as a daughter of the king means we serve the king. We serve others. Not ourselves. 

In my short minds-eye vision of being a child and coming to the table (I shared here), being chosen means accepting the invitation to dwell with God. It means accepting the invitation to enter the conversation with other family members in the body of Christ. For me it means writing this post. It means writing and speaking the words God has put on my heart instead of shrinking back and thinking I’m an afterthought and no one wants/needs to hear what I have to say. I’m not sure what it means for you. I encourage you to think about it. To pray about it. Have some thoughts on your chosen-ness? Feel free to share in the comments!

* Kristin collaborated on this post, specifically the section on essence! Thanks Kristin, our conversations always stimulate deeper thoughts and good words!

My Word for 2020

I started choosing a word a year many years ago because some friends told me about it. Actually, God chose it for me. Some years it took months for me to hear it. Some years I tried to reason it out of existence. The word would sneak into my thoughts again. The word would suddenly appear in my Bible reading, in conversations,  and on signs. Then I wrote it down in my journal. (You can read about last year’s word here). About four years ago, I found out Debbie Macomber wrote a book –

ONE PERFECT WORD: ONE WORD CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

I checked out of the library on cd and listened to it on a solo trip to South Carolina. I had lots of “aha” moments during the listen and wished I could write and drive. If you are wondering what all this “Word of the Year” stuff is, I recommend you read or listen to her book! On to my word. 

My Word for 2020

In September I attended Winsome Retreat for women at White Sulphur Springs. I really needed some time with the Lord. My stress level was on overload. I needed to make some drastic decisions or my body would go into full-on CFS crash mode. I’ve been there before (almost bedridden) several times. I know the signs. 

My problem? I like to work. Really. I do. I like to do good things that help people. I like to do ALL the things. What happens is I treat life like a buffet, I put all the good things on my plate, I try to do them all well and I get sick. Literally. Then one by one or all at once, I have to quit, I have to scrape all the things into the metaphorical trash.  My body crashes. 

My Vision

I was really hoping for an angel appearance at the retreat. I wanted an angel to show up and read a list of items to “scrape off my plate” followed by a “thou shalt do this.” I didn’t get one. What I did get was a tiny vision in my minds-eye during a worship session. I was suddenly a freckle-faced toe-headed little girl with my hair sticking out on the sides. The table was laden with food and adults were sitting around it. I heard a voice say, “Act like you are chosen, come to the table.” I walked to the table and climbed up on a stool. I was grinning. That’s it. 

As I drove home, I kept thinking of the word chosen as I listened to Taylor Leonhardt’s “Diamonds.” Here are some of the lyrics:

Shadows can speak louder than anything

And you believe the lies they’re saying

You are not an afterthought, love himself dreamed you up

Dressed you in diamonds, called you his star

Been hiding all this time, your hands over your eyes

I see you, darling, you have my heart

Not good enough, that’s what you tell yourself

Invisible, nobody notices

You are not an afterthought, love himself dreamed you up

Dressed you in diamonds, called you his star

Been hiding all this time, your hands over your eyes

I see you, darling, you have my heart

I see you darling

You’re a precious thought hidden in the heart of God

How good it is to know you

You became a word none of us had ever heard

How good it is to know you, how good it is to know you

I cried as I listened to “Diamonds” over and over the hills and around the mountains. I often think of myself as an afterthought and truth be told, I hide behind work. 

With all this talk about self-esteem and the Christians yelling things on social media, “Don’t talk about self-care or self-love, just talk about Jesus.”

Before you pick up a stone and pelt me with it, may I point out that being chosen was God’s idea. Not man’s. The whole reason we live and breathe on this blue and green orb is that God chose to create us. He chose to love us. He chose to adopt us as His own because it was his kind intent.

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.

For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [[a]because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]—

– Ephesians 1: 4,5


I’ll end with the above Scripture which is one of my favorites! Make sure you read it a few times and let it soak in. Did you chose a word for 2020? Feel free to share it in the comments! Join me here next time for “What Chosen-ness Looks Like in Daily Life.”

Foster/Adoptive Parents – It's Okay to Ask for Help

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

I’ll be the first to admit, this is difficult for me. I struggle with perfectionist tendencies which translated means – I want to do everything myself and I want it to be perfect. This doesn’t work well in reality. 

You may wonder why I’m talking about asking for help when this month’s theme is goal planning. The idea our American culture puts forth is you can do it all and you can do it all by yourself.

That’s just not the way God designed us. He designed us to be in community. We are all part of the body of Christ (if we are Christians).

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

-I Corinthians 12: 15-20

To take it a step further, as this set of scriptures does, we are part of a body. Each one of us is a part. If we don’t do our part, the body doesn’t work properly. And if we don’t let someone else do their part, the body doesn’t function well.

I said on the podcast this week my husband is a servant. He is totally focused on serving more than I am. That’s his part. 

When we don’t let people do their part, we are robbing them of the blessing.

The first time in my adult life that I really had to ask for help was when I was pregnant with my third child. I went into preterm labor at twenty-eight weeks, which was stopped. The result was I was on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. I was only allowed to walk to the bathroom. That short walk caused contractions. My church set up a rotation of ladies to check on me and prepare meals. I hired a college student to help with the other two kiddos. It was one of the hardest things for me to do. 

Fast forward to our adoption journey.

We were in Poland on our first trip of the adoption for five weeks. We left before Thanksgiving and returned five days before Christmas. During those five weeks, a good friend came and cleaned and cared for the house (my step-father, Bud lived with us). Another friend set up the Christmas tree and decorated it. Another friend who owned a bakery made us some cookies. We came home after about twelve hours of flights to find a clean house and our house Christmas-ready! What a wonderful gift.

I’d like to say after the experience of receiving help, I was more willing to ask for it. I wasn’t. I’ve had many more practice tests on asking for help – including during a CFS crash or two, homeschooling, and planning events and the list goes on and on. What stops you from asking for help?

Let me leave you with this. James 1: 27 mandates we care for the widow and the orphan. 

27 External [a]religious worship [[b]religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

Not everyone is going to foster or adopt. You can help someone fulfill the mandate by asking for help. Some people are the part of the body designed to help you and your kiddos. They can’t do that if you don’t ask for help. 

Want to hear more about this topic?

Are you an adoptive/foster parent? Are you sometimes overwhelmed? Do you struggle with asking for help? (Raising my hand here!) You’re not alone. If you have been following the series this month on goal planning for 2020, don’t skip this episode. Maybe it’s time to ask for help! Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen as she shares some real-life stories about the importance of asking for help to achieve our goals.

How to Assemble a Vision Board

Write down your vision.

I covered this in more detail here. If you missed it, go back and read it first.

Grab a board

This is the simple part. Go to your local craft store and purchase a canvas or poster board.

Find Pictures that represent your vision

You can use Pinterest, magazines, take photos yourself, make some graphics on Canva, or draw your own. The possibilities are endless. Last year, I made some fake book covers on Canva to represent books I planned to write. The actual covers changed and that’s okay. The board is a representation of the work you are going to do. Remember to be flexible and have fun!

Think about what your vision will look like on a daily basis.

Think through your day. Make sure you block out time for your vision. It won’t just magically happen. You must make time for it to happen. This means giving up something else. It may mean giving up something good. There is a myth that everything will be balanced -that you can maintain everything perfectly all the time. You may have to give up having a spotless house for a season while you work on a project. It may be sleep while you get up at 4:30 to write (true story). Maybe we gals have to give up late-night Netflix watching because we need sleep so we can get up in the morning. Maybe kids’ nap time is the time to work on a project. Find time to work on your vision. I guarantee in order for a vision to come to pass, we have to be more intentional about how we spend our time.

My Vision

Years ago, when my eldest was a toddler, hubby and I moved in with my parents in order to stop renting and buy our first home. Most of our belongings stayed in boxes. I had limited space, was living on someone else’s schedule, and had a toddler who recently learned how to flip out of her crib. What did I do? I decided to start writing again. It was my first pursuit of writing as an adult. I didn’t own a computer. I had a typewriter. I set it up in my brother’s drum room and typed while I listened for Audrey who was next door in her room.

I gave up evening TV watching for a long season while I typed away. I felt satisfied, empowered, and productive. And guess what – the circumstances were not ideal. I didn’t have a pretty office. I didn’t have a desk. Nothing I wrote during those eight months was ever published. And yet it was time well spend. The time was profitable. The season reminded me writing is where my passion is parked.

This reminiscing and rambling is a reminder all the work your pour into your vision is profitable in some way. Don’t enter the process of creating a vision board with the idea that you will or should have perfect circumstances. Or the mistaken assumption – I will create a perfect product right away. If this is your frame of mind right now, you may need to do some reframing.

2020 Vision Board

Here’s my completed vision board for the coming year. It’s more of a summation of ideas than actual events. I break down my goals into smaller achievable objectives on paper and a calendar. I have :

  • Typewriters to represent writing more books
  • A computer to represent e-courses
  • A clock to remind me to spend time wisely (I’m using the 5 Second Journal and The Morning Sidekick Journal to help with keeping track).
  • Flowers represent time in my flower garden which is still part of my overall vision
  • Family time is super important – I mentioned some of the activities we do in the article here.
  • I have some house projects represented including some outdoor ones.

2019 Vision Board

This is last year’s board. It’s seems much different than this year’s. Last year, The Whole House had finished up its first year of the podcast, some e-courses, and a live gathering. It had poured so much of my energy into The Whole House. I still will this year, however, I have realized that my room is me. Everything I have to offer is my experience, the way I do things, and the topics God puts on my heart. I guess what I’m trying to say is your vision board is not some way out there idea, it’s not projecting some vision of something that isn’t in your wheelhouse. It’s you.

Want to know more about creating a vision board? Listen to this podcast episode!

Are you looking for a way to plan your goals for 2020? Have you ever tried creating a vision board? A vision board is a great visual to look at your goals on a daily basis. Vision boards can be fun, colorful, creative, and a great group project to do with friends. Why create a vision board? Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen and Kristin as they share what a vision board is and three reasons to create one.

Three Reasons to Create a Vision Board


What is a vision board and how does it work?

vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.

-makeavisionboard.com

A vision board is a great visual to look at your goals on a daily basis. Vision boards can be fun, colorful, creative, and a great group project to do with friends. Why create a vision board?

We need a visible vision to help us achieve our goals. 

Seeing your vision on a daily basis helps you remember it.

“Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Elie. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; there was no frequent or widely spread vision.”

I Samuel 3: 1

Sometimes people think they should just live by the seat of their pants because they think having a vision or plan isn’t spiritual. The attitude, well if it happens it happens usually means nothing is going to happen.  How often do we live reactionary lives instead of lives of action and proactive plans?

Jesus’ final word before the ascension was full of action words (see Matthew 28: 18 -20). Go into all the world. Preach. Publish (I love this one) the good news.

Without a vision, people perish. 

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained;
But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].

Proverbs 29: 18

We like to quote the scripture. It sounds cool. Think about it for a minute. Maybe your vision provides disaster relief and you show up after a tornado. You didn’t bring water or medical supplies because you were just winging it. People could really perish in that situation. We need to have a plan. 

The Hebrew word paw-rah’ means “to perish”. Paw-rah’ was the word used in a biblical proverb where a woman’s hair was let flow out of its covering (hairband). Unconstrained in the wind her hair is directionless and blown in all directions.

medium.com

How can you go if you don’t have a plan? 

When my kids were younger, we studied Paul’s missionary journeys. While Paul didn’t have an actual canvas from the local art store with his vision hot glued on it, he didn’t just wander aimlessly either. He had a plan. His plan was inspired by the Holy Spirit and he followed through despite shipwrecks, snakebites, and imprisonment. 

3. God always has a plan.

Another important point – Pray before you plan. Also, don’t give up even when you have obstacles. As I write this, I’m on what was supposed to be a working vacation in the mountains of WV. The plan was I write while my husband fishes. That plan isn’t working out. More likely, God had another plan. My body is finally relaxing. I’m sleeping a lot more here than I do at home. I’m listening to worship music and dancing around like a crazy woman, bingeing on blogs about goal setting and taking notes on them in my favorite way – by hand in a notebook. God is directing my path, it is narrow. I could fight, be stuck and feel frustrated. Or… I can let the oil of the Holy Spirit grease my path so I can slide through easily. Hopefully, I’ll continue to choose the latter. 

In September, I attended Winsome retreat in the mountains of PA at White Sulphur Springs. The retreat was a refreshing time in a gorgeous setting. I connected with some friends and overcame a fear (that’s a story for another time).  What I didn’t do is receive a typewritten answer from the Lord about what my next year’s plan should be. I went to the retreat with an expectation of seeing some writing on the wall. It won’t. What was there was what God knew I needed at the time. Affirmation. Confirmation. And a message – You’re already chosen.

My Point? Don’t force the issue of a plan in YOUR time frame. Pray and wait for God’s time. He’ll show you. 

Turns out, this trip to the mountains is God’s time. So, today, I work on the skeletal plans of my vision and watch “dem dry bones hear the word of the Lord.”

Ready to make your vision board?

Don’t get out the hot glue gun just yet.

  1. Write out your biggest goals for the year. No matter how crazy they sound, do it. 
  2. Check and make sure your goals line up with the Word. Get someone close to bounce your ideas off of, someone who will support you and cheer you on.
  3. Get on Pinterest, Google, magazines, anywhere you can find visuals of your goals.

Still not sure what to put on your goal list?

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

If you’re like me and you like the physical act of writing plus you like to break things down into categories. My husband and I use the bucket method. It’s our bucket list. Each bucket represents an area of our lives. I think my hubby only uses three buckets – God, Family, and Work. He recently added health. I have more buckets – you can have as many as you like. 

For instance, if one of your buckets is homeschooling, you may have goals like – Get Jane reading on a 3rd-grade level. Read ten books allowed each semester. Here’s the key. Your goals need to be trackable, measurable, and flexible.

You can make a bucket for home projects, adult kids, friends – pretty much anything you want to work on.

Keep in mind you can shift gears later and decide which of these are most important. This is an exercise, not something set in stone.

The first year I did a vision board for my new career – writing, I got a little carried away. I decided I would write ten books within the next five years. It has been five years and I have seven books out now which is okay. It’s better to dream big and make progress than not to dream at all. 
Be sure to read tomorrow’s post where I share next steps, and the following day for how I put together my 2020 Vision board and pictures of the process!