Sunday, June 29, 2014

God Makes The Most of Me


There are days when all I can do is see all of my flaws. I wish I were better, stronger, more beautiful, more eloquent, more fit, more. More of this, more of that. Just MORE.

That’s Satan, of course. I know that God doesn’t need me to be more, because HE is more. He fills in the holes and gaps in my life and completes me.

I think that’s one of the toughest things to overcome in life. Ourselves. We have expectations and standards for ourselves and others. We have a really hard time accepting the fact that God has done everything that needs to be done already. For us.

And we just need to accept His grace.

I believe my Lord knew I would be flawed. He knew I’d say things I regret, do things I’m ashamed of, and stumble. He knew then and He knows now.

How blessed I am that my God still loves me! Not only that, but He can still use me! He still considers me a trusted and beloved servant and child. He still has work that only I can do.

Isn’t that just the most amazing thing when you think about it?

It doesn’t matter what I’ve done or what has happened to me in life. God can make the most of me and use me in a powerful and beautiful way. He can use what has happened in my life to bless others and become a ministry. He can use it to mold me and make me stronger. He can create a song of my life in a way that only the master orchestrator can do!

I find that so stunning. So humbling. And so perfect.

I don’t need to be better, stronger, or more beautiful. For God loves me just as I am and He sees who I will be down the road  - not despite my flaws, but because of them.

What a gift. What love!

What grace.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Does Faith Feel Like?



Sometimes, having faith in God doesn’t “feel” like I think it SHOULD feel. Sometimes I question my own heart because I’m not “feeling” the emotions and thoughts that I think I should be having.

My faith is everything to me. I live by it 24 hours a day. It’s never a “grab from the shelf” kind of thing for me. It’s real. Integrated into every fiber of my being. I can’t separate from it.  And knowing that, says a lot to me about what faith feels like.

Faith isn’t always joy. Sometimes it’s simply peace.

Faith to me isn’t always passion for reading God’s Word. Sometimes it’s simply a quick two-sentence prayer in my humanity that wants to do other things.

Faith to me is like the wind. I can’t always see it – but I can see its effects and feel them in my life. It’s like breathing. I don’t consciously do it; it has become such a part of me that it’s natural. Instinctive.

I think when I go through those seasons of doubt (as we all do), that I feel like I should be FEELING more. THINKING more. DOING more. But that’s not what faith is about. It’s about believing and accepting God’s grace. That’s it. He does it all and that can be hard to wrap our minds around. We want to DO something. FEEL something. BE something.

The thing is? We are. And we do.  For when you choose to follow the Lord, your heart does things on a daily basis. It has a voice and it takes actions. Those are always seen and felt by someone else. And you DO feel something. You feel the prick of pain when you disobey God’s commands. You feel deep joy when you see His hand sweep across a need and provide answered prayer in a way that ONLY He can do. You feel love. Heartache for those who are hurting. You feel everything deeper when you are walking with the Lord.

That’s faith.

Faith is knowing that God’s Word is true even when you don’t know what will happen in your reality. You KNOW His Word will be lived out and will be a testament to His presence.

I think sometimes I feel like faith should be a certain cloak I put on and take off. Like I know when I’m wearing it, and I know when I don’t. And that’s true to a point. But faith is also stronger and deeper than that. It keeps me warm even when I’m not consciously putting on the cloak. It protects and comforts me and it stands for what’s right even when I don’t label it “faith.” Sometimes I think it’s just me. But it’s never me. It’s faith. It’s HIM.

I’m learning faith isn’t always a feeling. Sometimes I do feel things when I actively call upon what I believe – but it’s not always there. No, faith is a choice. A direction. An intentional calling of the heart.

It’s love. And being loved. And resting in the knowledge that God is always with you. Watching, helping, guiding, disciplining, laughing, frowning, and loving. Always loving me.

It’s a beginning. It’s a start. It’s action behind the heart.


It’s faith. MY faith. And it’s always personal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Help Someone Instead of Watching




We are so wrapped up in our own lives anymore. Sometimes, I think it is too easy when our noses are in our phones or we are concentrating on our own things; to overlook someone who might need some generosity.

We go about our days and run across people constantly. At the store, the library, schools, church, the office, coffee shop, daycare – you name it. People are all around us. A lot of them are hurting people, people who feel unloved, elderly people, disabled people, or people who just come across an obstacle that you may be able to help them out on.

Have you ever been grocery shopping and notice an elderly person loading groceries into their car? It’s not as easy for them as for us younger people. Have you offered to help them? Or even open a door for them?

Has anyone ever spilled something in front of you and gotten a hand in cleaning up the mess?

Do you ever see someone who is crying?

Have you noticed the homeless man on the corner?

Do you observe teens roughing up or picking on another individual?

The options and the list could go on and on. Some of the things we run across in our day are simple things we could help with. Some – bigger things take much more courage and involvement on our part. Yet, still, there is a fellow human being who is in need. And we can be that person to offer hope, encouragement, love, and help. 

Sometimes – someone just needs to know they aren’t invisible.

I’ve heard news stories of people dying in waiting rooms. People beat up on the streets while others walk by and ignore them. People attacked, kidnapped, or robbed in front of others and in broad daylight. These things should not happen. They WOULD not happen if others would stand up for someone else. I know it can be scary – but what if that was you? Wouldn’t you want help? What if it was your grandparent, your child? Oh how easy it is to gain a different perspective when we turn the tables!

We have the opportunity to be light in someone else’s day. We can put a smile on their face, ease the pain in their back, and even turn around their world sometimes, simply by being kind, generous, and helpful.

I challenge you to look for people today who run across your path that may need a helping hand. Do the small thing, like opening a door for them. Do the big thing, like calling for help.


The more we stand together, and the more generous we are, the better off we will all be. It will feel good to give, and it will be a blessing to receive.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Laundry Basket

The laundry basket.

I see my laundry basket all the time. In fact, there are days where I’d rather not see it. For laundry means chores. It means washing, drying, folding, ironing, putting away of clothes.

Work.

Or does it? Is that what it really means, or can we find different meaning in a laundry basket?

A laundry basket can mean life! “For these children, I prayed.” I wanted them. I rejoiced over them when they were born. Their clothes mean they are alive. They are a part of my life and my world.

A laundry basket can mean fullness and love. It means you are surrounded by people and not alone. Your house is full – just as your laundry basket is full. Full of people you have with you to go through life with. The smaller the laundry pile in the basket – the less people you have around you in your daily world.

It’s all about your perspective.

You can look at the laundry basket, the groceries, and the toys about the house as work. Or you can look at them with joy for they represent loved ones. They stand for people to share a life with. People to love on, cry with, and navigate challenges with.

They represent blessings.

You are blessed. I am blessed. I’m blessed with clothes. I’m blessed with a washer and dryer. I’m blessed with an iron and an ironing board and I’m certainly blessed with my children and a husband.

What joy can be seen through the right eyes if we but just look for it.


May we all do our “laundry” with new perspective. The perspective of love, thankfulness, and joy.

Friday, June 20, 2014

IF


Life is a web full of “if’s.” We think back over our choices, decisions, and mistakes and wonder how life would be different if we’d chosen something differently or gone a different path in life.

We think, “if only.”

Sometimes those “if”s” are gracious and merciful. They are gifts and blessings that spared us from a deeper pain. They are “if”s” that can’t be explained – if only for a moment in time and a split-decision choice that we made. And our course was forever altered.

IF.

We can agonize over decisions wondering over the “if’s.” IF I make the wrong choice, then I’ll regret it and everything will be a mess. IF I go this way instead of that, it might cost me more, or be more painful. IF I go the wrong way, I could miss out on so much more.

IF.

We can’t go back and dwell on those “if’s.” I believe life is supposed to happen the way it happens. We are meant to live and make certain choices because it’s who we were created to be.

If’s only make us unhappy. They turn our head backwards instead of forward.

We have today. We can make the best decision we know how and leave the rest up to fate. Navigating life is part of the process; the learning curve of growth and maturity.


It’s something we can’t force or change. It just happens. As it’s meant to.


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Life of Gummy Bears

Last Winter, my husband was taking a class.  Each day, he would rise before the sun, and go downtown to study. He would normally be there all day as would some of the other students.  The company putting on this class always had a few containers of snacks on hand for them. One jar of snacks, was gummy bears.

You have to know, my husband is very creative and is all about “fun.” Well, one day, he made a little scene with the gummy bears and sent us a snapchat of it. That was all it took. We asked him to do another one and before we knew it, it became a daily event – to wait and see what scene my husband orchestrated with his gummy bears. I have to be honest, since his class is over and he no longer does the “gummy bear saga” - I miss it!

I wish I would have started saving the photos from the beginning – but I did save most of them. And here they are today, to share with you. They are so cute.


Enjoy…the life of gummy bears.

















Now aren't those just cute???




Monday, June 16, 2014

Your Heart Is Safe With Me




“Your heart is safe with me.” That’s the message I want my life to convey to others. 

Everyone needs someone to listen. They need someone who can hear the mistakes, the bad thoughts, the dreams they feel are embarrassing, and the tender heartaches they hold dear. They need someone to still love them. Still value them. Still look at them without judgmental eyes.

None of us are perfect. I’ve looked at people, who in my mind, were flawless, perfect, and had it all together, only to find out that they didn’t. They don’t. They struggle just like you and I do. They have regrets just like you and I do . And they mess up – just like you and I do.

I need to know that when I choose to bare my heart and soul to someone – that it’s safe with them. I need to know they won’t laugh at me, won’t throw me under the bus at some point, and won’t walk away.

And I know that others need that too. Everyone needs that.

It’s tough to let someone into the deep recesses of your heart, knowing that they will see your humanity, flaws, and weaknesses. Yet it’s those very authentic things that truly bonds relationships. It invites someone else to say, “You too? I thought I was the only one!” It encourages love, kindness, and understanding.

I want to be those things for someone else. I want someone else to be those things for me.

In case you were wondering, “your heart is safe with me.”  I know your choices may not be the ones I would make – but I will still be your friend. I will still love you the best way I know how, and I will still try to encourage and advise you – because of that love.

Your heart is safe with me. I hardly know all the answers to your questions and your fears. But I know what it’s like to HAVE questions and fears. I know what it’s like to beat yourself up for the things you say and the things you do. I know what it’s like to be afraid to voice your inner feelings.

Your heart is safe with me. For I find value in you. I know your life has purpose. I may not say the right things at the right time, but I won’t walk away. I will continue to be your friend even when you don’t feel like a friend to yourself.


Your heart is safe with me.

I am not perfect. I don’t have it all together. But I’m here. Here for you. Today, tomorrow, and next week.  For no heart should journey through life alone.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Distractions





Why does it seem like so often children will fight on the way to church Sunday morning? 

Why is it, that when you are headed to a special occasion, you and your spouse end up in a quarrel?

Why does the rain and wind come when you are trying to look really nice for an interview?

When you have someone on your mind and you are wanting to pray for them all day, why does the phone seem to never stop ringing?

Distractions.

Life is full of them. Satan is GOOD at them.

I was reminded of this one Easter when certain things seemed to distract my family from the reason we were going to church service in the first place. These very distractions reinforced what WE were feeling; instead of us remembering who we should be focusing on.

How easy it is to distract us! All Satan has to do is put the focus on ourselves. Our problems. Our issues. Our complaints. Our little world. We look inward instead of outward.

So little effort it takes for him to ‘de-emphasize’ whatever it is that is truly important in its place.

He must laugh at us.

I wonder if he thinks I’m “easy pickings?” I sure don’t want to be! I want to be someone Satan avoids. I want him to realize that I’m on to him.  I don’t want to be so easily spun, twirled, and pitched aside.

In order for me not to be ‘easy,’ I have to be armed. Armed in prayer and armed in God’s Word. I need to have my priorities in focus. And usually that starts with it not being about me. I can certainly take care of myself, make sure my health and well-being are tended to, without being selfish and prideful.

It’s possible.

And in fact, the more rested I am, the better I am taking care of myself, the more focused I am to clearly see when life is out of balance and when Satan is hard at work to get at me. Whether it’s through my marriage, my children, my work, finances, or health – he WILL try to push my buttons.

Because he knows he can’t win me so he wants to hinder my growth in the Lord. He wants to discourage me. Frighten me. DISTRACT me from my true purpose and my true love.

Do you see him at work in your life? Do you see how sneaky and quiet he creeps in?


We need to be aware. Be plugged in to God. And be intentional.  Lest more of our priorities be stolen away by something as simple. As. A. Distraction.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have To Make Peace With It


Those words crossed my heart and mind one day. “Sometimes you just have to make peace with it.” Those words that said so much.

We’ve all had our crosses to bear. We’ve all gone through things in life that were unfair. We’ve been wronged. Life hasn’t dealt us the blessings and rewards we should have gotten, at times. And we hold on to it in our heads, and we hold on to it in our hearts. More than that, we carry it with us from thing to thing. It lives on. IN us.

But I’m learning that sometimes you just gotta make peace with the past. You need to make peace with the wrongness of it all. Make peace with the unfairness, the loss, the grief, the change that you didn’t ask for. For peace is the only way you will be able to move on.

We can grow from those things that were meant to hold us back. We can get stronger from those things that were meant to make us weak, and we can embrace those things that left deep scars by using them to our advantage. By letting them fuel us instead of drain us. By making peace with them.

I wish some things had never happened to me. But they did. They are now a part of who I am. A part of my life story.  I can continue to let those things hurt me day after day after day. I can let them tear me apart and not only ruin or wrong me in the past; but ruin and wrong me today. IF, I hold onto them.

But I want to let them go.

They will always be a part of me in some way, of course. But they don’t have to have power over me. They don’t have to dictate the choices I will make or the actions I will take. I can make peace with the past ,and by doing so, have control over my future.

Bad things will happen. Hurtful things will occur. And I will not welcome any of them. But I can (over time) make peace with them. I can find purpose and perspective, only, ONLY, if I am able to let God work peace in my heart where it once held pain.

I want to move forward in life. I don’t want the same things to keep hurting me over time. Don’t you? Let them go. Make peace with the parts of your life that didn’t go the way you’d planned or wished. And let those very parts of life build you into a better, more giving, and complete person. Let them build you into a person who can love the next person who is struggling with the same thing.  Trust God and the reasoning He had/has for having you where you are at this moment in time.

Make peace. 


It’s time.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hold On

Life always changes.  It’s bound to happen. Someone moves away, gets a new job, finds a new friend, or passes away. People leave, change, move, and adapt.

Sometimes when life has its ‘seasons’ of doubt, despair, frustration, or discouragement – remember that it won’t stay that way forever.

Things WILL change.

People don’t always change. I’ve hoped, prayed, and waited for some people to change… and nothing. But situations do. Environments do. WE do. 

So, if you’re in a season that you feel will never change or end? Hold on. Because it will.

Don’t give up. Don’t despair.


Life changes. Always.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Leaving Something Behind That Says, "I Was Here"





I was reading someone’s blog post recently about something that their husband had built for them. It reminded me of the different places I’ve lived and the different homes that I’ve had in my life. So many of them hold special memories for me.  You can never take away a memory, but sometimes you do have to leave special things behind.

For example, I had to leave two rosebushes that represented my two daughters. They still grow (I imagine) in the yard of the home where I brought my second daughter home from the hospital. That was the same house where my husband built me a trellis with a heart on it. We cut it down and took it with us to our next house. But alas, this last move, we had to leave it behind. So my beloved “love” trellis with the heart still graces the back yard there.  As does a spot known only to us where we buried our beloved cat. He was an indoor cat, and we just knew he’d love being out in the yard with all the birds that he always enjoyed watching.

I remember the house I grew up in. We carved (our initials, I think it was) in the cement when it was poured on our back patio. I imagine our mark is still there.

These are some of the memories and marks that I know I’ve left behind in my life. I’m sure there will be many more. Spots in time that we leave behind us. I think of things like this when I’m in Europe or in the East and I’m touching a very old building or bridge. I wonder who has gone before me and left a certain stain or mark behind them? Were they happy? What was their life like? What was that moment in time like for them?

We live. We breathe. We leave behind marks of our life. Maybe it’s something carved in cement or on a tree. Maybe it’s something we’ve planted or built. But we’ve added something to this world by being there.

We leave part of ourselves behind. Part of who we were at that moment in time. Something that says, “I was here.”


And I love that.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Inspiration Can Never Be Rushed



Sometimes the inspiration just won’t come. I look for it, I seek it out, and I just can’t seem to touch it.

I hate those times.

I don’t understand why I can’t seem to catch just a glimmer of inspiration in those seasons. For I know it’s all around me. Inspiration is in the beauty on my children’s faces and the smell of my husband’s cologne. It’s in the vastness of the sky, and the wind that blows the trees. Inspiration is in the smell of a delicious meal, and the grip of a tiny newborn’s hand.

It’s all around us. It’s IN us. It’s before, and behind us. God uses us to inspire one another and He uses His creation.

So why does it elude us at times? Why do we fail to feel what we know is all around us?

Is it because we have saturated ourselves with so much noise, busyness, and frenzy that we can’t sit still, be still, and just KNOW that He is God? That He is good?

Is it because we need to feel adrenaline race in our veins and have forgotten how to feel the small whispers and tender caresses of love, faithfulness, honesty, and integrity?

Perhaps we look for inspiration simply to get a job done. A task achieved. A check marked off of our list. Instead of getting inspiration in our heart and lives to be INSPIRED. To feel JOY. To feel alive, beautiful, loveable, and loved?

To be inspired is to see what is often unseen by the world. To feel what doesn’t need to be expressed. To understand without using words. To create with the heart.

It IS there. It is everywhere. We just need to slow, pause, feel, and let it overcome us. Let it teach us. Show us. And lead us.


For inspiration can never be rushed.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Overwhelmed

There are moments lately where I am just so overwhelmed.  I feel so blessed and so thankful to be where I currently am.

I am seeing God’s hand working. I knew it was working when I knelt on my knees in prayer so many times before, but now, now I’m seeing the results of those prayers. It’s not as if I didn’t believe at the time I prayed them, that they’d never come true – I just felt like the reality of those answers was so, so far away.

Do you know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed? To feel such love for your Savior and such love FROM your Savior that tears come to your heart, your eyes, and your throat?

My God is SO great.

For so many years, I felt like I was in a battle. A struggle. A spiritual one and a physical one. There were times where I felt like life would always be that way. And now, now I sit in the blessings. The clouds have blown away and the sun has come out.

It feels so good. And I am so humbled.

I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to forget what it feels like to have such grace and mercy bestowed on me. I don’t want to forget how it feels to not be crawling to God in despair and yet still feel like I’m so close to Him.

Good times often cause us to forget our need for God. They often pave the way for us to relax and go about what WE want out of life. It is usually in the struggle that we claw and cling to our God and need Him so desperately.  But to reside in the blessing and still feel like you need Him? A gift.

God does things sometimes just because He can. He is always faithful. Even through our doubts, our lack of patience, our gripes, and our tears – He knows the future and He knows what is best for us.

Oh how great is His love!  Oh how great it is to FEEL His love! To know it’s been there all along even when it felt so far away. To touch it with my heart when my eyes close in deep, complete thankfulness.

May I never, ever forget what it took to get to the blessing.
May I never forget in the good times what I learned in the hard. And may the tears never stop coming to my eyes and heart at the knowledge of His deep and complete love for me.

Oh yes. I am overwhelmed.


And it feels so priceless.

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