How to Know When it’s Time to Wake Up

This post is about two big life questions:

How to Know When it’s Time to Wake Up &

How to Find Clarity When You Are Just Not Sure

As I’ve shared before, I spend a whole lot of time prepping for the new year. To name two of my practices, I Choose a Word for the Year and Make a Powerful Vision Board. The process blesses me with a few key phrases that morph into my big themes for the entire year. Behind these words and phrases are eight fantastic goals.

The bottom line is that I should have total clarity, right?

I did have clarity . . . until I started reading The Life You Long For: Learning to Live from a Heart of Rest, by Christie Nockels.

I’ve watched Christie lead worship the last six or seven years at a women’s discipleship conference called IF:Gathering. Her peaceful, attuned spirit impacts me year after year. When I saw that she wrote a book, I wanted to read it.

The book has a big theme of going through a season of winter in your life. However, the book did not hint a single word about winter in the title or chapter titles or in the summary on the back cover. No such wintrous words were mentioned until I landed smack dab in the middle of the book.

What does the theme of winter have to do with waking up? A lot. Let me explain.

As many of you faithful readers know, I have written extensively about my season of winter. My season of winter had a dramatic entrance when I got seriously ill with Covid while on a family vacation in the Western US. I say that so you know I was very far from home in a very high elevation of which the combination literally took my breath away.

Winter’s arrival was preceded by two major disappointments in our family. By the time Covid wiped me out, I was powerless to fight the hand of God shutting my life down for a season. Winter’s arrival was simultaneous to my willing surrender.

In winter, capacity is at a halt. In this season, one relies on the process of God healing and mending our souls – – a process of which we have no control. In winter, we acknowledge that there is no work for us at hand. We stay inside. We stay warm. We lay down beside holiness. We are content in the stillness.

I had assumed that winter was of the past. But then Christie’s book. Her words took me right back to my winter.

Interlude for the Non-Farm Girl aka Florida Girl

If you’re not a farm girl (I’m not) or a girl who reads about farms (I am), then you will need to know the short version of what happens in the farm fields in the freezing winter. When it appears that nothing is happening on the field’s surface, buried stones and rocks begin their rise to the top. The frozen water under the surface eventually thaws; dirt then fills the thawed space and pushes the stone to the surface.  As the snow melts and rocks appear on the surface, farmers head out to the fields to remove the stones and rocks.

Please pause for the best part.

With the stones and rocks removed, the soil becomes fertile, fruit bearing ground.

Remember that the farmer has done nothing in winter to bring the stones and rocks to the surface. Creation has done its holy work by the great, majestic hand of our God. The farmer needs only to agree with God and let the stones and rocks be removed. Then, the farmer can get onto the work of bearing fruit.

Time to Wake Up?

After the author shares the extensive details of her season of winter, she explains that, after hiding herself and healing in the center of God’s love, she seemed to have fallen asleep to some of the things God had prepared for her. She needed some nudging to wake up.

We sometimes need to be reminded that it is time to Wake Up.

Of course, this nudged me too.

This is where all my hard-earned clarity went out the window. I did not enjoy watching my hard-earned clarity fly out of my head, but I do enjoy exploring what God may be doing in moments such as these.

Am I fully awake from winter? Have I been unaware of some of things God prepared me for during my season of winter?

When you are in a space that lacks clarity, it’s important to determine what you know instead of staying focused on what you don’t know.

Over the past few weeks, in order to gain clarity, I have asked myself the following questions:

  • Are there any idols I’m worshiping?
  • Am I hanging onto a view of success or worthiness that doesn’t fit my life as a beloved daughter?
  • Can I name the stones that are being dug up in me?
  • If I have the faith to look toward fertile ground, what does that fertile ground look like?

When I started this post, I still could not answer two of the questions. I had intended to simply share with you that I planned to continue to be prayerful and wait. In the meantime, my overactive mind could not help but pursue more insight into the questions about idols and stones.

Idols and Stones

Dear sisters, idols and stones will be with us until a more perfect self emerges on the other side of this life. Idols will draw us away from the Father. Stones will not be so easy to dump. Both require self-awareness and surrender.

Christie’s book tells us that we are his Beloved.

Beloved, the highest call on your life – above any personal passion or pursuit – is to be loved by God and take your place as his child.

God is driving home this point to me.

My friend Lynn recently taught a devotion on Hosea’s love for his wife Gomer who constantly ran from his passionate, redeeming love for her. From that devotion, I learned that, if we are honest, we are more like Gomer than we had hoped for. But God is also more faithful than we could hope for.

Later, my phone suggested Beloved by Tenth Avenue North. Read the lyrics. From the song, I embraced the notion that idols will never satisfy. The love we need will always be deep in the Father’s eyes.

For the first time, our God’s beloved name for us made sense to me.

O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.

Hosea 14: 8

Can there be blooms in winter?

As I pursued the four questions above more intently and deeply, I began to consider that perhaps winter is closer to my heart than I thought. Christy’s book quotes a letter she received from a loved one about a flower that blooms in winter. She quotes,

The Amaryllis blooms in winter, even still. It will not look to the world around it and depend on it for nurturing or care. It will instead, obey the world within it and become exactly what it was created to be. To bear the image of the beauty inside itself, set there by a Creator, not bound by time or season.

Christie Nockels

Yes, there can be blooms in winter.

One can be in winter enjoying some blooms. What do winter blooms look like? For me, humble, mature confidence shows itself among iridescent snowflakes. I acknowledge that fear, disappointment, exhaustion and self-doubt are old stones that the Father continues to bring to the surface. However, my winter blooms tell me that, in confidence, humility and beauty will continue to emerge.

My clarity returns.

I go back to my Vision Board, Word for the Year and annual goals.

I remind myself to Believe Again in Impossible Things. I remind myself of the value of Slow Growth. I remember that All Parts of My Life Matter.

Of my idols and stones, I ask God to remove my pride. When we hold on to the past along with our unmet expectations, we miss God’s mercy. For me, mercy is wrapped up in this quote from Christy’s book:

Our only hope in this life is to run back to Jesus, the conductor of the rhythm of rest. Here we are met with eyes of mercy. We aren’t even expected to dance right away. Maybe we need a minute to sit and listen and let our hearts be stirred from rest. To hide before we emerge. And that’s okay. God knows we will dance again, and when we do, it will be from this very rest, in the light and effortless way He always intended.

Christie Nockels

What do you need to wake up to?

Even if you are not absolutely sure if God is nudging you to wake up to something, you can focus on what you do know and less on what you don’t. As we think about what our fertile ground may look like in the season we are currently in, we can list the things we are sure of.

I am sure of

  • Honor my body & my mind.
  • Serve my kids as they continue their launch into adulthood.
  • Fan the Flame of the women in my life. 2 Timothy 1:6
  • Be a good steward.
  • Remember the Mission field.

For the things we are not sure of, we can remember mercy. We can remember that it’s okay to hide in Him before we are ready to emerge. It’s okay if we are not fully ready to dance again. We can remember that we are free in the here and now and God knows we will dance again. He has full confidence in the gifts and purpose He has woven into us. He has full confidence in His plan for us. There is no pressure or ticking clock in His love.

With that said, take the plunge.

Write a list of the things you are sure of in this season.

Of equal importance, write a list of the things you are not sure of.

Let Him bring to life what you may need to be awakened to.

No pressure. All mercy.

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It’s Time To Draw Lines in the Sand

As I recovered from Covid late summer, I drew a few lines. Some lines represented an end point. Other lines represented a beginning point.

I moved away from social media for almost four months. I didn’t miss anything. When I came back to it, I found that social media lives best as a memoir to share and a gateway to ideas and people that I don’t know in person.

I didn’t read or write a single thing for about two months. Not even the word of God. I had enough word stored up in my heart and enough awe to be still in the presence of his voice. It was a slow road back. I started by coloring scripture. That was the most I could mentally do in that season.

Later, I picked up the second half of the book that I had previously started before my winter season began. I highly recommend that you read Growing Slow by Jennifer Dukes Lee. She helped me understand that winter is a valuable season to be in. God often does his greatest work in seasons where it appears nothing is happening. Enjoy her unhurried list. I carry it with me, actually, literally.

More Lines in the Sand

Being so ill caused me to have a regimen pointed toward health. God showed me how strong my mind, soul and spirit are, but how tired and worn out my body was. My body bears the weight of the good works that I so dearly enjoy. My body now has a voice that I am learning to hear. Not an easy task, but I continue to shift my priorities toward her well being too.


These lines are similar to the boundaries of the sea to the sand. Take a few minutes to read these four verses. Think about the roar of ocean and the lines that the Lord has set for it.

What comes to mind? Are there people you are pleasing over doing what is right for your life? Are there events or activities that you are saying yes to that rule out your opportunity for rest, fun or growth? Is there anything that you truly miss because the roar of the ocean washes away your commitment or love for that thing?

A Few Key Questions

  • How do you stay in awe?
  • How do you stay in the still?
  • How do you know the difference between the glitter and the true work God has called you to?
  • How do you let go of the habits and grasp of your old ways?
  • How do you acknowledge unsustainable productivity and choose a soul serving pace?
  • How can you stay in the routine of self care?
  • How do you know the difference between kindness and people pleasing?
  • How do you adjust your desire to make plans when you are asked to just be still?  

I write to you for two key reasons.

Sister, sister as my friend Christina V says.

1. I want you to know that I struggle alongside of you.

I get sucked up by the worries of this world. But, like you, I come back to center.

I make mistakes that feel heavy, and sometimes hopeless, as I wait for God to come in to free me.

I want so badly to know the answers for my children. I want to clear the way for their path. I want to labor for them. I want to be more than God’s instrument in their lives. But then I obediently recall that his plans are better than mine. His ways are higher than mine. His goodness is better than mine.

2. I want you to know that you should also do the thing you love to do.

You can wait until you think it’s perfect. Or you can simply begin. I write imperfect letters to my friends. What will you do? Or what are you currently doing that you can share with others?

I am confident that your thing is worth sharing. It’s worth sharing with the few probably more than it’s worth seeking to share with the many. Your thing is worth sharing. Your people want to hear. They want to know you more than they do today through sharing the thing that you love to do.

You are a Masterpiece

It’s been a while since I embraced Ephesians 2:10. There is no work in winter. Perhaps in winter we remember that we are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus – – minus the good works. Perhaps we must take a break from good works to rest and then decipher what good works God actually prepared for us before time began.

Summer Revelations

I’m wrapping up my summer revelations. I’m thinking of the questions I shared a few paragraphs ago. I’m thinking how easy it is to lose awe as the feeling of the landslide gets a little harder to recall, as time passes.

When you are watching the landslide come down, it is a soft heart that invites the new stillness, new landscape.

When the landscape settles, it’s a soft heart that receives the new garden in all its palm tree-daisy-vine glory.

A soft heart walks the new garden, learning its ways.

A soft heart is mindful of the weight of the old ways.

A soft heart puts one foot in front of the other in the fields of the new landscape, even when the worries and pressures of this world seek to bury her.

A soft heart recalls that she has been rescued in her mistakes and difficult circumstances before and she will be rescued again.

A soft heart allows the holy spirit to run free in the lives of her loved ones. She smiles at the thought of being an instrument instead of a conductor.

She tells herself the landslide came for a purpose. She reminds herself that her desire for output is the very thing that shuts out the stillness. She acknowledges that the speed of this life will eradicate the awe if she lets it.

Sister, what will you tell yourself as you examine your ways?

I have asked a lot of you the last few weeks. I’ve asked you to be still and trade in your linear thinking for the awe of Jesus. I’ve asked you to shed some things that you are attached to. I’ve asked you to quit things and give up things. I’ve asked you to acknowledge that you already have more than enough. I’ve asked you to look to the glow of the moon over the fields that you have been faithfully planting.

These requests make up the landslide that became my life these last several months. You give me the gift of sharing. I hope to give you the gift of imperfection and an invitation to vulnerably share the gifts God has given you.

The Simple Prayer of Shed & Shift

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May you pursue stillness and awe. May you live as he speaks rather than in the plans you think are best. May you remain an instrument instead of a conductor. May you know that I struggle with you, alongside of you. But not without the hope, joy and freedom of unmerited grace. I love you sister sister.

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