One Thing I Want

by Cindi McMenamin

I recently went to God with my shopping list.

I asked for His provision over a financial matter. I asked for His healing over my daughter’s medical condition. I asked for His peace over a situation that was causing me to become restless. I asked for His wisdom in an issue that my husband and I weren’t in agreement upon.

My list was long, and I was exhausted after recounting it all to God.

Then my devotional reading that morning took me to Psalm 27 in which the Psalmist said:

“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4 CSB).

There were lots of things I was asking of God that morning. But the Psalmist asked for only one thing: to dwell in God’s presence and gaze upon His beauty.

I realized, then, that if seeking God had been my one request – my only request – I would not have needed anything else I’d been praying for:

  • If His presence was what I sought first, I would’ve had the confidence that He is my Provider, both financially and otherwise.
  • If His character was all that I sought, I would’ve had the peace of mind that He is the Great Physician for whatever my daughter’s medical condition.
  • And if His glory was my chief desire, I would’ve had the perspective that He is the Healer of hurts and the Redeemer of all things, when it came to my disappointed, restless heart and the matter that was robbing me of peace.

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

The rest of my prayer that morning became: Simplify my heart, Lord, to have just one request: to know You and dwell with You intimately.

Can you simplify your long list of requests to include just one — to know Him and dwell with Him intimately? When He becomes all that you and I want, we will have all that we’ve ever needed.

Lord, trim my list. Bring me into focus with the one thing that truly matters – my relationship with You. Help me to be satisfied with You alone and to realize that when I have you, I have everything I could possibly need.   

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindi

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What would you name as your number one prayer request?

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by Rhonda Rhea

You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. Psalm 16:11 CSB

Have you ever been tagged—maybe trapped—in a group text? You’re begging your phone. Please, not one more notification. And your phone answers with: zzzzzt.

Even worse, you go to bed early while the other 30 in your group have a night owl session. Get up the next morning, get your coffee, and get comfy. I know it’s your day off, but turn off that show you wanted to watch and don’t even think about reading a book. Because you have four thousand messages.

I’m sorry, but I’ve got news for you. The only way to escape is to change your number. And your name. Maybe your appearance. Also your place of residence. You should probably go ahead and plan your move to France.

Croissants. These are your life now.

Interesting note, if it’s a direct message you’re trapped in, don’t think it’s an easier exit. Because if you dare depart the group conversation, your abandonment is sirened to everyone in there. “____ has left the group.” With, of course, the implied shame, “She no longer cares about any of us. Or our cause. Or the planet or children or love. Probably not even puppies. She’s basically a monster.”

Sometimes, I wonder if it would be easier to just go ahead and plan a big ol’ party and invite everyone over.

I also wonder, but on a much different level, if we often make experiencing the presence of God as complicated as a group message. We start thinking in the back of our minds that to have a conversation with Him, we need to push all the right buttons, type in the exact phrase, hashtag it all just so-so.

Enjoying the presence of God isn’t elusive, complicated, or convoluted. Not unless we make it so. It’s found in the beautiful and oh-so-simple act of recognizing Him—understanding that His presence was already there even before we searched. It can often be as easy as looking up, quieting the input of every other voice or device—even quieting the over-busyness of our own thoughts—and zeroing in on Him. On His nearness. On His desire to meet and chat, and His willingness to influence every thought.

David got the message. “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4 CSB)

Commenting on this psalm, 19th century preacher, Alexander MacLaren, wrote about the “unbroken consciousness of being in God’s presence.” He said, “…there is such a thing as having an undercurrent of consciousness running all through a man’s life and mind; such a thing as having a melody sounding in our ears perpetually, ‘so sweet we know not we are listening to it’ until it stops, and then, by the poverty of the naked and silent atmosphere, we know how musical were the sounds that we scarcely knew that we heard, and yet did hear so well high above all the din of earth’s noises.”

“Undercurrent of consciousness.” I want that. I want the consciousness of God to be louder than any “zzzt” or any other earth-din, and I want to notice loudly when it’s missing.

I think I’ll go so far as to say, I would love to convince my mind to stay in that most glorious undercurrent. Beautifully ever-tagged.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How do you keep mindful of the presence of God?

Christmas List-less-ness

by Rhonda Rhea  @RhondaRhea          

I was readying for a marathon Christmas shopping session when I suddenly felt noticeably…list-less. Not tired or disinterested or anything like that.

Not listless. List-less.

As in, we were into December and I hadn’t made the Christmas list. Hadn’t checked it once, much less twice. What was I thinking?

That list is usually taking over my life by early November, sassing me and hounding me and pitilessly bossing me around. A pushy little monster, that list. Every time I’d sit down to create it, I would start feeling a little Frankensteinian. Why would I purposefully create that beast? If I didn’t make it, it couldn’t bully me, right?

While I’m not necessarily listless around this season, now that my five kids are grown, I do sometimes get a little sentimental. I still grin at some of the outrageous want-lists I got from my kids. Sentimental now. More like “Santa-mental” then. What even were moon shoes? Just saying. Frankenstein’s monster would wear those.

Why is it so easy to get overwhelmed with the to-do lists and the Christmas lists and the monster lists of more monster lists in the season of giving? Shouldn’t I be feeling less Frankensteinian, more frankincense-ian?

I like thinking about the gifts given to Jesus, the gold reminding us of His kingship, frankincense of His role as Priest, and myrrh foreshadowing His death. If we listed other elements of the spirit of Christmas giving, I think we would top it with not only the three gifts to the Son, but:

  • The Father who gave the Son.
  • The Son who gave His life.
  • The Spirit who gives His constant presence.

Focusing on this triune “list” helps bring our other lists into perspective.

More people are depressed around the holidays than any other time of year. Many cite the stresses of the to-do-list-busyness. For others, it might be financial challenges or missing a loved one. Some have unmet expectations of that perfect holiday.

If you’re battling some lingering listlessness, try adding a couple of things to your to-do list:

  • Check the expectations. When we expect all our plans to come off just so and then they don’t, disappointment can become a monstrous joy-zapper. Not a single one of us can control every aspect of an event, and we can’t control even one aspect of a person.
  • When we’re joy-depleted, focusing on our King, our Priest, our Sacrificial Savior can miraculously bring joy back to life. Jesus said in John 15:11, “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (CSB).

Guess what. No more listing needed. That last one? That’s it! Complete!

David said, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4, CSB). David asks the Lord for one thing. One. David, what kind of list is that?

Lord, let my lists all boil down to this one thing: worship in Your presence. Oh the joy there!

I want to pray that prayer all season. All year. All always.

I should report, too, that I did finally make those lists. Then I tamed them by sewing them into one list and shooting electricity into it. Still not sure why I gave it neck-bolts.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.  Psalm 16:11 NASB

TWEETABLE
Christmas List-less-ness – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for the Messy to Meaningful series, with My Purse Runneth Over coming soon. Edie Melson and Rhonda have a new book as well, Unruffled—Thriving in Chaos.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What is your greatest joy-stealer?

Don’t I Wish – the True Gifts of Christmas

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Ah, Christmas shopping. When you can find yourself completely enveloped in the smell of evergreen. And sometimes pepper spray.

When my five kids were little, I remember sometimes feeling my children thought my Christmas list was some sort of magic lamp. Make a wish, rub my list and POOF! It was under the tree. I might even remember one of them wishing for three more wishes.

Every year I would resolve not to be manipulated. I would be very determined…as I wrote all their “wishes” down on my long shopping list and headed out to the stores. As I headed out, mind you, to get everything on the list. All of it. Like a bit of a mom-chump. Incidentally, just to attempt to be somewhat responsible, I would try to limit myself to five or six hours of shopping per trip, but it usually took about that long to find a parking spot.

It was the most frazzling time of the year. I have to tell you, I had a few wishes of my own. Then sometimes I’d be almost finished with the shopping when somebody would come up with a new wish. What? I wonder how many times I heard myself saying, “How ‘bout we have a little less wishing, a little more cleaning your bathroom.”

Yeah…less wishy. More washy.

Then again, who was I to talk about wishy-washy? After all, I was the adult who waffled under the pressure to grant all the desires of all the littles.

In Psalm 27, David wrote about his number one wish. He said, “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire.” Okay, David. First of all, you’re doing it wrong. One thing? That’s not how we do it.

Then he tells us the one thing: “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4, HCSB).

The presence of the Lord. That’s the one gift that will actually change us. Toys and clothes and treats and “things” will come and go. But the presence of the Lord will make a difference all the way to the soul. It changes a family from the inside out.

It’s downright embarrassing that I can so easily get wrapped up in lists and wants, the busyness and the noise, and forget who we’re celebrating. God coming as a human, knowing He was destined for the cross—it’s the most beautiful redemption story. Celebrating His birth in His presence. That makes so much frazzle-free sense. Presence. Not presents. It’s a real gift to our children when we get this in the right order—and when we don’t waffle.

You might be interested to know that I eventually got a better handle on my wishy-washy-“wishy” ways. More presence. Fewer presents. We implemented a three-gift rule. Jesus got gold, frankincense and myrrh. Even the kids agreed they shouldn’t get more gifts than Jesus. We pared back (though I should probably confess here that I totally rocked out the stockings). Most of the time, I shopped, spent and stressed less. Would you believe the kids did NOT feel less loved?

And it might encourage you to know that this year I did my Christmas shopping early and didn’t even need a list. Grown kids and gift cards, thank you very much. Because nothing says “love” and “this is how much I’m willing to spend on you” like a gift card.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11 NASB

TWEETABLE
Don’t I Wish – the True Gifts of Christmas – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How do you keep from having a frazzled Christmas?

One Thing I Want

by Cindi McMenamin

I recently went to God with my shopping list.

I asked for His provision over a financial matter. I asked for His healing over my daughter’s medical condition. I asked for His peace over a situation that was causing me to become restless. I asked for His wisdom in an issue that my husband and I weren’t in agreement upon.

My list was long, and I was exhausted after recounting it all to God.

Then my devotional reading that morning took me to Psalm 27 in which the Psalmist said:

“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” (verse 4 CSB).

There were lots of things I was asking of God that morning. But the Psalmist asked for only one thing: to dwell in God’s presence and gaze upon His beauty.

I realized, then, that if seeking God had been my one request – my only request – I would not have needed anything else I’d been praying for:

  • If His presence was what I sought first, I would’ve had the confidence that He is my Provider, both financially and otherwise.
  • If His character was all that I sought, I would’ve had the peace of mind that He is the Great Physician for whatever my daughter’s medical condition.
  • And if His glory was my chief desire, I would’ve had the perspective that He is the Healer of hurts and the Redeemer of all things, when it came to my disappointed, restless heart and the matter that was robbing me of peace.

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

The rest of my prayer that morning became:

Simplify my heart, Lord, to have just one request: to know You and dwell with You          intimately.

Can you simplify your long list of requests to include just one — to know Him and dwell with Him intimately? When He becomes all that you and I want, we will have all that we’ve ever needed.

Lord, trim my list. Bring me into focus with the one thing that truly matters – my relationship with You. Help me to be satisfied with You alone and to realize that when I have you, I have everything I could possibly need.   

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: How has your prayer life impacted your relationship with God?

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