Sunday, December 29, 2013

Writing Blitz


I normally write when the mood strikes me. I feel I’m a better writer when something stirs in my soul and the passion comes out in my words. Then, I have a stockpile from which to draw from when life gets busy.

It works for me.

I just go to my computer, pull out an article that resonates with me at the time (even if it was written long ago) and I put it up on my blog. Of course, I write within the moment of time too. I write about my life from time to time and it goes up straight away. But having an archive of material to pull from has been a wonderful thing for me. I never have to stress when I’m sick, my kids are sick, we have company, go on a trip, or life gets busy, because I have articles on hand ready to use.

Lately, my stockpile has been getting really low. Lower than it’s been in years.

We sold our house in May and moved into an apartment in June. Then we moved from Idaho to Texas in September. My girls started a new school, we rented a house, my husband started taking some classes, we had a wedding in Georgia, my daughter turned 17, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a visitor from England has been staying with us for a month.

I’ve been living life. And I’ve been loving life.

In the process, I haven’t had a lot of quiet time with which to write. So I’ve been pulling those articles out to use left and right.

I plan to go on a writing blitz here soon and get that stockpile up again. It’s my safety net and I’m so thankful for it.

But I’m also thankful that life is full. Life is good. And you won’t hear me complain. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

It Shows In Your Face




If you worry and fret a lot. It shows on your face.

If you are content, joyful, and have an inner peace. It shows in your face.

What you feel inside of your heart and soul doesn’t just stay inside. It comes out in your eyes, in how you hold your posture, or carry your head. In the way your lips move and the lines along your forehead. Yes, it shows in your face.

I can see it in others. I have seen it in myself. It’s why that question comes up about something looking different in someone else. That one thing you can’t seem to put your finger on. It’s because they look the same. But not. They ARE the same. But not. What we feel and go through internally, shows up outwardly.

It’s why a pregnant mother or a woman in love has a certain glow about her. It’s why when someone has lost someone dear to them – they can smile and yet you still see sadness in their eyes. It shows. Always.

We can hide lots of things. But there is still something not quite placeable to others that shows up on our face. Worry. Stress. Thankfulness. Relief. Apathy.

What shows up on your face? What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror?  Time can deepen those marks and creases.

A face truly is a window into the heart and soul of a person. I pray that the view my face gives is one of joy, thankfulness, and love.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Not What WE Bring To The Table




I’m a pleaser. I try to do the right thing and be a good person. I over-analyze myself at times and I am constantly trying to improve myself.

But I’m learning. At age 42, I better be learning! I’m learning about something called grace and mercy. And imperfection. I’m learning that they are okay. That they are needed. They are part of a more beautiful picture of our lives and who God is molding us to be.

I’m learning, that most of my life, I’ve been trying to fit a certain mold; a certain image of what I thought CHRISTIAN was and is. And, I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to be obedient to God’s commands or to hold yourself to certain standards. Those are good things. But the thing is, sometimes we can make it about us. Instead of about Him.

It doesn’t matter what I bring to the table. It’s really about what GOD brings to the table. I’m not the missing piece to the puzzle. HE IS.  I don’t complete God. HE completes me.

I think sometimes we can focus so much on what we should do, that we put too much importance on our own position. It may not be intentional – but it’s there. It’s as if we think that it all hinges on us. We have to get things just right or everything will fall apart.

The thing is? We don’t. We don’t have to get everything just right. Sure, we should aim to, but we need to give ourselves grace and mercy when we so often fall short. And we WILL fall short.

I think that’s one of the hardest things about faith. We feel like we have to do something in the equation. But all we have to do is accept.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

We Are Called Into a Battle


Isaiah 1:17

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

We are warriors. I think sometimes we forget that. We remember the “peacekeeping, kind” part about being a believer and Christian. We forget that we are to fight a battle. We forget that we are to stand up and speak out.

It’s much easier to remember the gentle and peaceable part.

God calls us into action. We were never meant to stay behind our locked doors at home and not get involved in this world that He has placed us in. On the contrary; we were meant to be engaged with others and to fight for what is right.

It starts with doing right ourselves, of course. Then it goes onto defending those around us who are being oppressed. Sometimes that oppressed person could be us. Would we want to stand alone – or would we want our brothers and sisters in the Lord to surround us and support us?  We need to be there for one another – for the weaker person; for we never know when that day comes around that that “weaker” person is us.

We are also to protect and take care of those who need it. The orphans, the widows. Those who have no one to stand in the gap for them. The homeless, the starving. There are so many out there who need help. Who need love. Who need to know somebody gives a darn whether they live and breathe or not.

Yes, we are called into a battle. We are called to use our voices and to use whatever else God has given us to fight and seek justice; remembering in the process that we can fight for it – but if it escapes us – God will be the sole judge and jury at times. That’s hard to accept when things seem so unfair – but His hands are much better at handling things than mine are. All I can do is fight to the best of my abilities and know that I have tried.

Tried.  Have you tried? Have you tried to be a warrior for the Lord or have you been content being the peacekeeper and staying behind your safe walls?

It’s time that we each stand up. Stand up for what is right. For if we don’t – we can’t expect anyone else to either – and then where will be?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How Does a Heart Express Itself?




How does a heart express itself when so much emotion tosses and turns inside of it?  When you hear of yet another person who doesn’t want to set foot inside of a church because Christians have disappointed them and were hypocritical?

How does a heart express itself when yet another dear soul chose the path to try to end his own life? You see, yet again, the ripples of that action affecting a whole family.

How does a heart express itself when you see a beautiful girl who has it all inside and outside – doubt herself and her value? How do you GIVE someone else self esteem?

How does a heart express itself when tears brim near the surface at the pain, injustice and unfairness that is going on in the world today? When people are torturing and killing Christians for no other reason than they are Christians? When people hate muslims for no other reason than they are muslim?  When parents are afraid to parent because their kids might be the only ones “left out?”

How DOES a heart express itself without seeming to condemn or judge or come across as self-righteous and perfect?  What words fit and what actions impact someone to see life in a new light?

How does a heart tell a husband to be a spiritual leader without him feeling pushed into it? How does a heart tell a wife that her man IS greener pastures as imperfect as he may be?

How does a heart tell a teen that sexual impurity will never fill their heart but only rob and strip them of something they wished they’d held onto….forever?

How does a heart convince someone that nothing they did was too awful for God to forgive them?

A heart can feel so much that it can burst at times. It pounds and pulses and throbs with love and yet the words escape because they seem like they will be too much or too little.

I think sometimes, all the heart can do is love and pray. And love and pray. And love and pray some more. And maybe the words will come just at the right time. Not from someone who sees themselves as perfect or who has it all together. But from someone who simply  - and – authentically – CARES.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sometimes What We Ask For, Isn't Really What We Want



On bended knee we go. Pleading with God to answer our request. Time and time again we ask. The process can seem so long at times. The waiting unbearable.

We get impatient.

Then that day comes and we know it’s THE day. The day we’ve been waiting for. God has answered us with a “yes.”

Time goes on again. The “yes” came but not in the way we’d wanted. Not in the way we’d hoped. It was different than our vision. Slightly altered but still there. And we wonder why it doesn’t feel right. Why it doesn’t fulfill us. Why it misses its mark in our hearts somehow.

It’s because we really weren’t meant to live in the ‘yes.’  We were meant for something different.

Sometimes God gives us that ‘yes’ not because it’s what He wants for us, but because we asked so earnestly for it, that maybe He decided to give us what we asked for just to show us that what we thought we wanted….we really didn’t.

I’ve been in those times. Had those moments. Have you? The dream wasn’t quite as perfect as it should have been. It was messier. Harder. The grass not quite as green as I’d envisioned. And it always reminds me of what I gave up. What I had.

God is so good at showing me what I’ve taken for granted!

All of life is a blessing. A gift. There are moments and times to be thankful for even in the storms, the hurricanes, and the challenges. Even in the desert times of our lives. And hindsight is so good at showing us what treasures we had.

It’s good to be careful what we ask for. Sometimes we will get it and it will be all wrong. But sometimes, sometimes it will be right. Just not right for us.

If God has us in the “waiting” maybe there is good reason for it. Trust Him and His plan. Lean into Him and ask Him to give you wisdom and discernment. We all want to be where we can flourish.  Seek His guidance and timing so that when the ‘yes’ comes….you’ll know for sure it’s exactly what you want and where you want to be.

No, you’ll know it’s MORE than what you’d hoped for.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How Should a Christian Be Different?


We hear often how believers should stand out from the rest of the world. We should be different and show others that Christ is in us.

But how do we do that?

I’ll tell you.

A Christian should be one of the hardest workers at his/her job.

A Christian should be a faithful and loyal friend. Not a gossip or a backstabber.

A Christian should be different from the rest of the world in that they don’t partake in movies with morals/values different from God’s. For example; if there is nudity in it, don’t watch it.

A Christian should show the world that we are different in how we handle conflict. If someone cuts us off in traffic, we don’t tailgate them or drive by and give them “the face.” No, we just let them be. Maybe even say a prayer for them. We don’t engage others in conflict.

A Christian can be different in what they wear. They can be trendy, but not showing off what is only meant to be seen by a spouse in the bedroom.

A Christian can be different by being honest. Honest in paying their taxes. Honest in paying someone back for a loan. Honest when someone asks for their opinion! Honest.

A Christian should be different by being generous. When everyone else looks out for “me,” a believer in Christ should consider others. Give when they see a need, love others, be generous and charitable.

A Christian should be different from the rest of the world by being thoughtful. Bring something to help out with a meal if you’re invited over somewhere (or at least offer!), keep the noise level down if you live in an apartment building, be considerate of others space in parks or outdoor events instead of trodding all over them, return things that are loaned to you in just as good or better condition than they were given to you in, and be kind and polite to those who serve you.

There are so many ways we can be different. We can stand out. But do we?

You know, living life above reproach is more freeing than to live it in bondage. It’s more enjoyable and more freeing to know there won’t be consequences or penalties for bad behavior. And it draws others not only to you, but to God.

We SHOULD be different.  We CAN be different. Let’s start today and live up to the heritage that God has left for us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Still Learning the Ropes: From Idaho to Texas (church, school and hair)


We have been in Texas for about 2 ½ months now. Honestly, it feels like we’ve been gone at least twice that long! When I realize we’ve only been here 2 ½ months, I see just how much we’ve packed into that time frame and why some things aren’t quite “concrete” in our lives yet.

So, I think we’ve found a church home. That’s good news. It’s huge. One thing I’ve noticed about the churches here is that most of them have police officers outside on-hand to direct traffic. I had never seen that before! And at our church, at the ladies Bible Study they have water bottles for you. A whole bottle, people! Laugh at me, if you will, but in Idaho, I’m so used to a Styrofoam cup and a pitcher of water. If I want a whole water and don’t want to pay for it? Well, the only places I can think of getting that, is at the bank when you open a loan, or at the car dealership when closing a deal on a car.  My husband went to a men’s event somewhere else last weekend, and he too, got a water bottle! We are uptown now! HA HA

I’ve noticed quite a few differences in schools. They, too, have policemen after school on hand to direct traffic! I can see why, because, well, there is a LOT of traffic. My girls’ school is huge. HUGE. It looks like a college campus sitting atop the hill.  In fact, their school has a welcome center. A WELCOME CENTER! I thought only hospitals had those!  Just look at this picture my daughter took one day of all the kids in the halls going to their next class!



Here, school doesn’t start until 8:45 am. It is SO nice. Back in Idaho, school started anywhere from 7:45 to 8:15. So it’s nice to have a little later start in the morning. But I will say we’ve been adjusting to the later release time. They get out at 4:05 instead of 3:15 – what we were used to. So the evening gets late quickly once you get home, crash a little bit from your day, and eat dinner. Not much time to dawdle!

I think one of my favorite things about schools in Texas (or at least the one my girls attend), is they have two sets of books for the kids. A school set and a “take home” set. So when we enrolled them, they each got these huge stacks of books for all their classes to take home and leave there.  No carrying heavy books back and forth to school! At school, they study out of the classroom set. Then they have a book at home to do their homework in! It’s genius.  They turn them in at the end of the year and of course are responsible for damages or missing books at that time. But I love it. I felt so bad for all my girls used to have to carry; especially when they had a game day of volleyball. They’d have their books, their purse, and their game stuff. Too much. They were so laden down with bags. Not anymore!

One thing I am struggling with a little bit right now is finding a good hair salon. So far, the quotes I’ve been getting for hair are quite a bit higher than in Idaho. And they seem to nickel and dime you for everything. Want to get a trim? No problem. Oh, but you want it washed and styled too? That’s extra. Want a highlight. Okay. But if you want a trim also – extra. So is wash and style or a deep conditioning. Every little thing – extra. So it really adds up. Not only that, quite a few salons have “ranks” of hairdressers. You can have a freshman stylist for cheaper. But once she gets good or passes some milestones set by the salon, then she becomes a sophomore stylist and your prices go up. And so on until she is a senior stylist. So even if you like who you have, your prices will go up immediately when her rank goes up. That’s kind of frustrating. So, still on the hunt for a place I can trust my head with permanently.

Overall, I’m still having a blast discovering all these differences. We’ve been having so much fun looking at the weather (even though we’ve had a cold snap of low 30’s) – because we laugh and smile when we see “home” is -2 or a high of 9. (Sorry, guys!)  And NO SNOW or ice for us yet this winter. That’s one of my favorites!

I think I will grow to love Texas more and more even though I know it’s imperfect. Just as Idaho was imperfect.

I’m so thankful to be here. And just having fun sharing with you all my discoveries.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Not Just Anyone Has a Right To Tell Us Who We Are




I remember.

I remember so many of the words and labels that have been used to define me. Some have been good, others not so much.

In junior high, I was a cheerleader and that labeled me. I was also told I had a “big butt.” That stuck with me into adulthood.

I have been labeled because of people I’m related to, where I went to school, what roles I’ve taken in life (stepmom, writer, wife) and my interests. Because of things I’ve been through in life, people have told me I’m brave, creative, sweet, anxious, and wimpy.

Some are true. Some are not.

As I remember, as you remember your childhood – what have you let define who you are as a person? Do you still carry those words said to you by someone else? Even if they might not be true?

I was watching a video clip recently of a man trying out for the “X-Factor” on television. He was so scared that his arm was shaking and he was crying. Someone had told him he shouldn’t sing. Do you know what? Once he started singing, he blew the judges away. He had an amazing voice! It was really, REALLY good. And he was stunned that not only did they like him – but the crowd liked him and unanimously voted him through. Why? Because he let someone else label him and he believed it.

Not just anyone has a right to tell us who we are. We let people speak into our life that have no right to.  They may not have good intentions. They may not see our heart. And yet we let words define who we are, not just in a moment, but for our whole lives. We let them hold us back from becoming who we are really meant to be.

Sometimes we let an image define us, as well. We live in the past of glory days and fail to take hold of our present. Whether that’s good or bad, it’s not a reflection of who we currently are. It’s only a part of what has molded and shaped us.

Be very careful about who you let speak into your heart and life. Don’t let just anyone label you or define who you are.  For you could go your whole life believing and living a lie.

It’s so easy for us to slap titles on others for seeing only a part of what makes up their character and persona. 

Use your words wisely. And use your ears wisely as well when receiving words from others.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dust





I hate dusting things. You have to move objects around or take them off a shelf all together and dust it; then put them back. And they never seem to look quite the same when you put them back.

It’s tedious. But it feels cleaner when it’s done. And it looks better too.

The thought hit me one day, how our lives can so easily gather dust – just like a shelf. We see they need some cleaning, but it seems so tedious to us that we don’t want to bother. We’d rather leave things the same for they don’t seem that bad. But when we finally get around to doing it, we feel better and we feel cleaner inside.

Dust is one of those things that your normally don’t see accumulate until it’s already there. Things impact our heart and our lives a little bit at a time – like dust. And before we know it, we can write our name in the dust that sits there; there is so much of it because our lives needed a good cleaning.

That’s what happens without regular maintenance. We think a little bit at a time of something won’t affect us. But it does. We just can’t always see it or notice it until later on.

People sometimes wonder why you dust a shelf that seems to already be clean. Why do you dust a life that doesn’t seem to have any problems? TO KEEP IT THAT WAY. The best way to dust is when you do it as a preventative measure instead of doing it after the dust is already there. We need to be preventative in our lives. Keep them clean before the dust starts to accumulate and they get really dirty.

It may seem tedious and unnecessary. And we may have to alter things a bit so that we aren’t quite in the same spot we were in the day before; but it’s worth it in the long run.

Never let things get out of hand and never let something “small” fool you into thinking it’s no big deal.  For “small” always leads to something bigger if given the time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Don't Despise Small Beginnings





I remember when I was 20 years old and living in Las Vegas on my own. I walked through a Neiman Marcus store at Christmas time and saw these gorgeous crystal icicles that you could hang on your Christmas tree. I thought they were beautiful but I couldn’t afford them. I found some plastic ones at a dollar store and hung those instead. I was smug with myself at my cheap little replacement.

Years later, I finally had glass icicles for my Christmas tree. But I kept the plastic ones. Even today, I still have a few plastic ones that haven’t gotten lost. I hang them right along with the glass ones to remind me of where I started from; my humble beginnings.

I also have paper ornaments that my kids made one year when we were in an apartment. We were building a house and all of our stuff was in storage. So they made ornaments out of paper. I still hang some of those too – a precious reminder of our thankfulness one Christmas, despite not having all our things. We made do and had fun despite what we lacked having.

I still have things I hang onto that don’t have monetary value to someone else. But they are sentimental to me because they are reminders. Reminders of a simpler time. A time when I may not have had financial excess, but I had happiness. And that’s a very important reminder!

Never be ashamed of your beginnings. Most people start out small and aim to get rid of those cheap things as quickly as possible. But it’s those “cheap” things that often can be such great reminders of how rich you truly were and show you how God took care of your every need to bring you to where you are now.

Whether it’s a small home, a “bargain” piece of furniture, or anything else that you had to “make do” with – focus on the bigger picture. There are people in your life who love you and enjoy being with you.

For many, many years, I used an old hope chest as a coffee table. I had many get togethers and people who had to sit on the floor and eat off that hope chest because I didn’t have enough chairs. Those are warm memories. Those were fun times.

You don’t have to have everything achieved in order to love and be loved. You don’t have to have a certain image to be valuable and to “value” pieces of your life.

Things are just things. It’s what they represent that holds the true value.  And that’s why I keep hanging my plastic icicles along with the glass ones. One represents a time and a place that I’m thankful for. It’s where I came from. It’s part of who I am. Another part shows how faithful my God is and how much He loves to lavish blessings on me. Both are valuable in my heart.  And the plastic one holds just as much value as the glass.

Monday, December 2, 2013

It Doesn't Take Much Effort To Be Kind


I usually don’t have much patience for people who ring my doorbell that aren’t my friends or family members. I don’t care for the interruption and having to stand there for small talk when I know I will say “no.”

I used to interrupt and say “no” as quickly as possible so that I could get back to whatever important thing I felt I was doing.

I decided to do it differently, recently.

I saw them coming. I sighed when they walked up my walk. But I was ready to be kind. I knew it wouldn’t take much effort on my part, and it didn’t. I even felt better about myself when I closed the door – even though I STILL said, “no thank you.”

I gave the same answer, with a kinder heart and voice.

I tell my girls the same thing often. We can say the exact same words to someone, but they mean something totally different by the tone we use. It shows our heart and it affects theirs in return.

I’m not sure why we get so abrasive with others. Annoyance, maybe? Busyness? But everyone has feelings. Even the guys who come and ring your doorbell.

It doesn’t take much effort to be kind.

It doesn’t take much effort to smile, or shake a hand.  It often takes more energy to be grumpy and complain. And you don’t feel better about yourself afterwards.

So make the effort.  Be kind to those you speak to today.

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