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Kingdom Keys

Kingdom Keys

There was a large group of people in the corner of a car dealership. Normally when you see a crowd you know something really interesting is going down. Naturally, I had to go check it out.

After a few minutes of observation, it was clear that ten people had car keys in their hand. Supposedly these ten were selected from a raffle drawing. One person had keys that would start the brand-new white SUV that everyone was surrounding. 

The crowd watched as one person after the other sat down inside the push-to-start car to see if their key would start it up. The suspense was real. We were down to the eighth person. They sat in the seat and the car didn’t start.

Now on to the ninth. The math was pretty simple. If it didn’t start for this person, we knew the winner would be the tenth. 

The ninth person hopped in the driver’s seat. The car didn’t start. The tenth person celebrated. The camera crew started asking her about her job and how she would use the car she just won.

Just for good measure and a fun photo op, she sat in what she thought was her brand-new car. She went to start the car up and nothing happened.

The “winner’s” keys didn’t work. The crowd was shocked. A few whispers that were easy to overhear said, “What in the world is going on? All ten people went. How did this happen? Who won?”

The other nine had a glimpse of hope again. Who would it be?

We watched five people all hop in and hop out when it was confirmed that it wasn’t their new rig. The sixth person got in to find out that he was the winner. His daughter and wife started crying tears of joy and jumped up and down in a group hug. Apparently, he had forgotten to press the break as he pushed the start button the first time.

I can only imagine the shock, joy, and excitement he was experiencing after already counting the opportunity as a lose.  I can also only imagine the disappointment that the lady was experiencing after thinking the car was hers.

This got me thinking: What if we lived like we had the key to an everlasting Kingdom that God created for us?

As we get to know God, we learn that we hold the key to the Kingdom through our confession that Jesus is the Son of God. (Matthew 16:16-19) Isn’t that worth bouncing around with joy and excitement?

This key is unlike any other. We didn’t get selected because we bought a raffle ticket. It is not limited to one individual like that of this story. It was made possible because of the One who came to live on this Earth and die for every single one of us – Jesus, the Son of God.

Talk about the ultimate unexpected gift. He already paid the price for us. God cares about you so much that He cultivated a way for us to spend eternal life with Him. Can we take a minute or two to jump up and down and celebrate that today?

This key can be shared and given to those that we encounter in our everyday. Are you up for a challenge?

Friend, you hold the key that comes with the Good News. You’re positioned exactly where you’re supposed to be to “duplicate” and share this key.

Here’s a verse that sheds some light on what God calls us to in our everyday: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you–from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG 

Your assignment is important. It is literally life-changing. Guess what? You don’t have to do this work alone.

God invites us to partner with Him in our everyday: “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:7-10 MSG

Lean into where you are today. Focus on sharing your “key” with one person. Seek Jesus and ask Him to give you opportunities in your day to shine your light. Be present and alert because He is with you in this important role you get to partner with Him on daily. Smile and celebrate.

You have the key to the Kingdom that is everlasting with the One who delights in you, friend! 

Hope Reagan Harris is a wife, dog mom, encourager, iced vanilla latte drinker, first-time author, and most importantly a Jesus seeker. If you were having a coffee chat with her today, she would want you to leave believing that you are seen, known, and loved more than you could ever imagine by Jesus. Become sister friends with her today @hopereaganharris on Instagram!

What if Our Happy Place Isn’t a Location?

What if Our Happy Place Isn’t a Location?

It was a hot summer day in Northwest Arkansas. The back-to-back Zoom meetings in the middle of a pandemic were wearing on me. My overwhelming thoughts were getting loud so I decided to take a walk around the block. 

I’ll be really honest with you: I just wanted to quit everything. At the ripe age of twenty-six, I found myself wishing for retirement more days than not. Have you ever caught yourself in this place? 

“There has to be more to life than this,” I thought to myself. If you’ve had the same thoughts, there are two things you need to know before we dig in: 

  1. You’re in good company and not alone. 
  1. Your thoughts are spot on: There is more to life than this place we often catch ourselves in. 

Up until this point in time, my happy place had only been a physical location. If you would have asked me what my happy place was, I more than likely would have said any beach along Florida’s scenic Highway 30A or Jackson Hole, Wyoming or hanging with my husband in a cozy coffee shop, even though moments in these places are few and far between. 

Why was I wishing and dreaming of escaping from the very place God had called me to? On my walk that day, I picked a random Christine Caine podcast to listen to. Guess what she talked about on the episode? Retirement and how we are called to do kingdom work every day of our lives! 

You know those moments when it feels like God is speaking through someone else directly to you? This was one of those. As I took one step in front of the other on my walk, my mind led me to a question that has challenged me to pivot my perspective ever since: What if our happy place is our everyday journey with God? 

Trust me, there are days when I look at my own life and I remember picturing it to be so different. I was a public relations major. Have I ever had a PR job? No. I love running and being outside. Do I sit behind a computer screen every weekday for work? Yes. The list could go on and on. 

Life often looks very different from how we pictured it, but where God has positioned us is exactly where we need to be. This is where the freeing yet challenging choice we have to make comes in: Would we rather spend our days wishing we were somewhere else or spend our days soaking up the very place where our feet are planted? 

Just a few weeks ago, our LO sister and friend, Olivia Steingraber, said something on the phone that stuck with me. She told me how her pastor refers to our time on Earth as “going camping.” Think about that for a minute: When you go camping, you typically bring a light load with you and have a posture that is expectant for some type of crazy adventure. 

Friends, we’re on an everyday journey to do kingdom work until we are called to our forever home. It’s not an arrival moment we are aiming for but a voyage with Him. Our God is not only for us but is with us. 

Are you ready to pivot your happy place from a precise location to anywhere He takes you in this life? Ephesians 2:7-10 in the Message Version says it best, “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” 

There’s no better time than now. Welcome to your everyday happy place! 

Tips & Tricks for Creating Your Everyday Happy Place: 

  1. Accept your ticket from God to let Him be a part of your daily journey. 
  1. Lighten your load. Give your burdens to God and allow yourself to receive grace. It’s the ultimate gift that has no strings attached and requires no transactions. 
  1. Get in the Word and really get to know God. Lean not on your own understanding and focus on seeking Him every day. 
  1. Spend time in prayer and confiding in God. He truly listens and will find the most creative ways to speak back to you. Instant gratification has nothing on the satisfaction you experience when you start seeing God reveal Himself to you. Come to Him with the good, bad, and everything in between. 
  1. Make moves and know that God is with you wherever you go. Love people on your journey and enjoy the abundant life He wants you to have now. 

 

Do you need a new perspective on life? Are you looking for cozy, inspiring, guided journal pages that will both meet you where you are and encourage you to keep going? Look no further than the new journal from DaySpring, This Is My Happy Place: A Positivity Journal to Finding God’s Light, by Hope Reagan Harris! In it, you’ll find encouraging messages, fun, interactive activities, and compelling, thought-provoking questions that will lead you to a deeper understanding of yourself and God’s purpose in your life. You’ll be challenged to choose a positive perspective in which, with God’s help, all things are possible. Write your heart out, explore your God-given potential, and find your happy place in the pages of this truly unique positivity journal. 

Get your copy of This is My Happy Placehere today, and for a chance to win a copy, head to LO sister. We’ll be choosing TEN winners! 

 

God is Working in the Waiting

God is Working in the Waiting

We may not know the duration of our waiting, but we do know that God is at work.

I’ll never forget my senior year of high school. I gained a whole new perspective on waiting.

Let me preface this story with the fact that even on a good day, I don’t think any of my friends would use the word patient to describe me. Waiting is something I’ve always struggled with.

In sixth grade, my grandparents told me about this college nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains right next to the Pacific Ocean called Pepperdine University. I decided at that moment that it was my dream college.

I applied to seven colleges my senior year: three in Arkansas (where I was born and raised), one in Tennessee, one in Texas, one in Oklahoma, and Pepperdine.

My logic for making a college decision was pretty standard. I would simply go where I got the most scholarship money.

As scholarships started rolling in and I started seeing the cost of tuition, it hit me that Pepperdine wasn’t a super realistic option for me. The only logical choice was Arkansas Tech University, so naturally that is where I decided I would go.

I still remember going to Arkansas Tech with my mom that summer to get my student badge, pick my classes, check out my dorm, declare a pre-med major (this is comical in itself – I ended up majoring in Public Relations), and get familiar with the campus.

Pepperdine was still at the back of my mind, but I counted it as something that wasn’t going to happen. I tried my best to cover up my disappointment and move on.

My mom still had faith.

Just to set the stage, it was now eight days before Pepperdine would start their New Student Orientation. I was having just another ordinary summer day, that included babysitting two little girls, when my iPhone 5S started ringing.

My mom was calling.

I picked up the phone and she immediately said with excitement, “You’ll never believe this.”

She proceeded to tell me that she had called Pepperdine’s admission office to withdrawal my application since it wasn’t going to be affordable for our family.

The admission’s counselor responded with crazy news.

She said to my mom, “What if we told you Hope received an additional scholarship that would bridge the gap to cover one hundred percent of her tuition?”

I couldn’t believe it.

While I felt frustrated, disappointed, forgotten, and anxious, God was working in ways I couldn’t see, feel, or understand. God opened a door that only He could open in His perfect timing.

The same is true for you while you are waiting. Our waiting doesn’t have to make since because we know He is working.

As I look back on this crazy story, I’m reminded that:

  • Even when you feel stuck and like it is too late in the game for anything to happen, God is working. God working in our everyday lives is not conditional on whether we feel Him or see Him. We must confidently remember that He is always with us.
  • It is worth celebrating that His ways don’t follow a step one, two, and three approach. His ways are higher and mightier than anything we could dream or possibly imagine. We would shortchange ourselves if we planned our own lives.
  • God uses the unexpected and the unthinkable to change it all. It is in the waiting that He prepares us for what He prepared for us!

How to Travel Through Your Season of Waiting

We can both agree that waiting has purpose and it is preparing us, but how do we take action and cling to God in this season?

I stumbled upon Psalm 13 in the Bible where David, a shepherd boy and the future king of Israel, is writing from a place of being totally drained and asks the inevitable – how long?

The entire Psalm is short, but something I think we can both relate to:

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13: 1-6 ESV)

In this moment, David was alone and had nothing. His enemies wanted to kill him and their ETA was getting closer and closer. He decided to cry out to God in desperation.

This Psalm reveals to us that despite David feeling distant from God and forgotten, he was still living on the hope and promise that God gave him earlier. In 2 Samuel 7, God told him that he was the anointed King of Israel.

In his waiting, David takes a three-step approach that we can apply to our lives when we find ourselves in a similar place:

  • Step 1: Take a moment to cry out to God and let Him know how you are feeling.
  • Step 2: Ask God the burning questions that are weighing on your mind.
  • Step 3: Trust that God is for you and that He is still good regardless of your season.

Just as David had hope in the promise of becoming a king someday, we can have hope in the promise that God wants to spend eternity with us.

Our current circumstances and season of waiting doesn’t have to intimidate or defeat us.

David had enemies ready to kill him if they found him and he still trusted what God had in store for him. He was a shepherd boy and perceived as an underdog and God still used him to rein over all of Israel to bring His kingdom glory.

If He can transform David into a King, what can He do through your life?

Friend, let’s add that pep back in your step while you walk through your waiting. Waiting has nothing on the steadfast promises He has given each of us.

You were made for this moment and God is going to use you in ways to glorify His kingdom that you wouldn’t believe even if you were told. 

“But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7 ESV)

Hope Reagan Harris is a wife, dog mom, encourager, iced vanilla latte drinker, and most importantly a Jesus seeker. If you were having a coffee chat with her today, she would want you to leave believing that you are seen, known, and loved more than you could ever imagine by Jesus. Hope is counting down the days until her first book is published with DaySpring on March 1, 2022.

Become virtual friends with Hope today on Instagram @hopereaganharris!

Running to a New Pace

Running to a New Pace

Do you ever feel like you’re depleted of energy and lacking motivation? Are you totally burnt out? You’re not alone, friend. It is no surprise that a study by Gallup reveals 76% of full-time workers experience burnout.

I’ve had my fair share of crash and burn moments. The culprit of most of these moments was that I simply didn’t want to slow down or put aside self-created goals and expectations.

Once I determined my final destination, there was no stopping until I reached it. I have sacrificed my health, relationships, and joy at the expense of reaching something I decided I needed to achieve.

Can you relate?

It is story time – let’s virtually travel back in time to Lausanne, Switzerland together.

You’ve now been teleported with me to a lively, French speaking city nestled on Lake Geneva. Picture yourself in a beautiful vineyard looking at a crystal-clear lake that leads to snowy mountains and a sneak peek of Evian, France.

We are at the Lausanne Half Marathon on my twentieth birthday: October, 26th, 2014.

Let’s just put it this way: I cut some corners when training for this race. I didn’t exactly prepare my body or focus on the nutrition my body needed because at the end of the day I was thinking about the medal and how cool it would be to say I did the race.

Running on an apple and croissant, I started the race at an eight-minute mile pace. Three miles in, I wasn’t feeling so great.

I didn’t want to slow down or listen to my body. I was going to finish this race and stick to the unrealistic pace I had set for myself.

Let’s fast forward this race a bit. The finish line was finally in eye sight and the strangest thing happened. I straight up passed out.

The video from the race shows me falling and totally unconscious just steps before the finish line. Paramedics put me in a wheel chair and pushed me to onsite help.

I woke up two hours later to French speaking doctors where I mumbled one of the only French phrases I knew (I may have also cut some corners in my French class, too.) “Je suis étudiante,” which means I’m a student.

I’m sure the doctors found this fact to be less than helpful and looking back myself, it is quite hilarious that this was the one thing that immediately came to mind to share.

To finish up the story, once I gained consciousness, I ended up walking to the metro to head back to Pepperdine’s study abroad housing.

This moment quickly made me realize that running another half marathon wasn’t in the cards, but I never slowed down or questioned my pace outside of the race. I was still my own pacemaker.

I spent the next few years of college burning the candle at both ends. After graduating college in April of 2017, my husband and I got married in June and we moved to Washington D.C. to start our careers.

My first job started the day after we arrived at our seventh-floor, five hundred square foot apartment in Arlington, Virginia. This pretty much set the tone for the rest of my career. I’m four years post-grad and have had a total of nine different roles.

My life was starting to look a whole lot more like a game of Chutes and Ladders than a life of surrender to the One who created me and you.

At just twenty-six, I was burnt out, exhausted, and wishing for retirement. My life was full of discontentment, hurry, and fear. I mentally felt like I was right back at the Lausanne Half Marathon.

I feared I would fall behind.

I questioned who I really was.

I was anxious to reach my next goal. 

I didn’t have time to truly seek and listen to God.

Do you find yourself in the same place? Do our stories share some similarities?

About six months ago, I realized that something was going to have to change and I started trying to get to the root of the constant burnout I faced.

Why was I pushing myself to perform a specific way? Where did I even get the idea that this was the pace I needed to go at? How did I come up with this list of expectations?

You see, it boiled down to putting my worth in titles. It is not a coincidence that the first thing I told the medical crew was that I was a student. The habit only continued through post-grad. My title at work quickly became my identity.

There was only one way to fix this. I knew I needed to truly surrender and find my identity rooted in the ultimate pacemaker: God.

Ready for a challenge? I want you to truly start believing that your identity is first and foremost being a child of God.

God calls us His children throughout the Bible. God uses the humble and what the world may consider lowly to glorify His kingdom. Children ask for help, love on others, easily trust, and giggle with joy. He knows we are frail, yet gives us a position of righteousness.

Your current title, where you’re from, how much money is in your bank account, or what you’ve accomplished during your lifetime cannot make you deserve this title more than the person next to you.

Contrary to culture, a purpose filled life isn’t always about climbing to the next step on the ladder. A purpose filled life is one that is okay with finding a chute that takes you to what the world may deem as a lower place in order to bring glory to God’s kingdom.

As we get to know God, we learn that when we have nothing left to give, He gives us everything we need. God doesn’t operate on the currency of time and we don’t have to live up to the worldly expectations of success.

No amount of rest can put a stop or delay the plans He has for you.

The overachiever and passionate person you are may not be super cozy with the idea of rest, but friend it is essential that you slow down to rest when burnout sets in so you can find renewal from God.

What if we become so busy with our day-to-day plans and the constant hustle to do more that we miss the small moments that change everything for His kingdom?

Culture tells us that busyness is significant. God tells us that all who are weary and burdened can come to Him to find rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

Let’s talk about the hats you wear for a second. God created rest so that we can experience a renewal that allows us to wear our different hats a little more intentionally and serve those around us in the way we were designed.

Even Jesus chose a moment of solitude at times so He could renew His mind and spend time with God. When we treat ourselves like a machine, we forget to unplug and ask God for His direction. We can get so caught up with busyness that we forget we have unlimited access to the One who intentionally created us.

You aren’t running what might feel like a half marathon you haven’t trained for alone. God is by your side and He will give you strength throughout your race. He is mindful of your needs and is not limited by your weakness. You are His child and He loves you.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Don’t let the world deceive you. Your final destination isn’t that job title, buying that house, hitting that six-figure salary, driving that car, marrying that person, or taking that vacation. You are running your race not for some cheap medal, but to bring God glory, disciple others, and live an eternal life with Him.

When you start to get burnt out with busyness, re-prioritize, spend time in His word, rest, and don’t grow weary. Regardless of where you are or where you think you should be, your purpose is incomparable and God has you there for a reason.

Keep showing up and surrendering your daily race to Him, friend! Nothing satisfies like Jesus.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Here are a few journaling prompts to help you unpack what is weighing you down and overcome the burnout you are facing:

  1. What is happening in your life that only God could orchestrate?
  2. What fills your plate? Why did you take on each responsibility?
  3. Prioritize what is on your plate. What can you stop doing? How can you create a lighter load and trust God with what you can’t continue to take on?
  4. How can you incorporate a better balance with the hustle and rest so you can live out God’s plans for you?
  5. How can you seek God’s direction each day?
  6. What are some ways you can add rest into your routine?

Hope Reagan Harris is a wife, dog mom, iced vanilla latte drinker, and most importantly a Jesus seeker. She strives to encourage those around her on their everyday journey with God. Her first book will be published with DaySpring on March 1, 2022. She’s on a mission to point others to Jesus so they can dig into the Word and start understanding how seen, known, and loved they truly are. You can become virtual friends with Hope on Instagram @hopereaganharris!

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