Thursday, November 17, 2022

When The Pressures On Your Life Are Great


There are times in life, where I really feel like the pressure is great. It seems as if everything comes down the pipeline at once. On multiple fronts, there are things going on that demand a lot from a person - physically - sometimes. Emotionally? Always.



These are the times where I’ve learned the spiritual stakes are high. For me and for the others that God has placed in these scenarios in my life.


We can grow weary. Drained. Our soul can need refueling - badly, at times. But somehow, we must persevere. Tread on day in and day out. Give our “all” to whatever pressures are bearing down on us.


Satan gains ground when we are weary. And he knows it. He knows if he can distract us, defeat us by making us tired, or emotionally drive us into a weak state, that he gains momentum in the situation. I think that’s why multiple things happen at once. He wants victory.


I detest these times. They feel like they go on forever and ever. Days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months. The heart and soul take a good beating.


Or so it seems..


Yet somehow, as weak as I feel in these seasons, as much as I long for them to stop, somehow, I come out stronger for clinging to faith. Clinging to God. Oh, how I look back in hindsight and wish I’d done things differently. I often feel like I should have said things more eloquently, took action in a more timely way, and been stronger… or calmer. Yet still… when I remain faithful, God has an amazing way of planting something deeper inside of me. He grows me, as painful as it is..


I am better. 


Even if those times weren’t for me - I am better for having to turn in tears to the One who is the ONLY One who can provide answers, solutions, and a clear path.


I am ever grateful for that.


If you find yourself feeling pressure bearing down on you from multiple sides - friend - please persevere. Please muster what you can each day to stay loving but strong. Generous but wise. Believing, hopeful, and carrying yourself with integrity. Turn to God every day; every moment if you have to. But turn to Him.


He WILL carry you. He will give you that “just enough” that you need for one more day, hour, moment.


Don’t let satan gain ground over you, or over those you love.


We may have to crawl through these times - but they WILL have an end. They will bring forth results. And for me? I want to breathe deeply knowing I made I through and I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in.


There is someone who is afraid of you. He is called satan. Give him good reason to tremble. 

Monday, September 5, 2022

There Is Something Beautiful About Who You Are




My way may not always be the easiest way. It may not be the fastest. It may not even be the smartest. But it’s unique to me. And it fits ME. It fits my comfort level, my voice, my thoughts, and my goals.


It’s taken me a long time to realize that even though someone may be able to do something more efficiently than I, it’s not necessarily better. 


For it doesn’t represent my vision.


We compare ourselves so often. We get intimidated by others. We measure our weaknesses, by their strengths - coming up short. But the stick in which we use to compare, isn’t a fair one.


If I am to truly flourish, I have to know myself very well. I have to know my values, moral compass, how I come across to others, what areas I need to work on, and where I excel. I need to know all of it. And I need to be honest about it. Recognize, acknowledge and work within those boundaries.


This applies to my relationships, as well as my work life.


In my “methodical” approach, I may encounter so many things that someone who is gifted at laying something down quickly… cannot. In someone else’s way, they may fine-tune something that my vision doesn’t consider. 


Neither is wrong. It’s simply uniqueness. It’s human identity coming out in thousands of ways with unlimited potential and opportunities lying ahead.


As we communicate with each other, we can’t always run over someone else’s way of seeing something. It’s THEIR way. Not ours.


As we learn to serve one another, we discover these things. They often present themselves to us in the most unexpected ways. Providing blessing to our souls in the process.


You are you. I am me. And that is how it is supposed to be. 


And yet we try so hard to be like one another. 


We look online and imitate to the point where unique identity is considered wrong. Out-of-tune.


Oh that we would each grow to be comfortable in our skin again - not trying to conform it, change it, mold it, or deny it!


Yes. We all have ways we need to grow. But motivation is different than shame. And inspiration fuels us and encourages us to get stronger in who we already know we are. 


There is something beautiful about who you are. Something no one else on earth can touch. Whether you are a creative, a technical mind, someone who loves people, or works better in the still quiet of dawn…may you and I learn how we are gifted, why we are gifted, and how it can be put to good use in this life.


It may take time to discover, or it may be hidden down in the recesses of our heart….laying buried because we feel it’s inconsequential. But there it is. 


And the world needs it. SOMEONE needs it. Someone needs YOU. Just as you are. Quick or slow. Cautious or risky. Quiet or bubbly.


Step forward. With confidence. Love. Joy. And peace. Do YOU. In color or black and white. But do YOU, knowing you are contributing to life. 


And LIVING it as only you can.

Monday, July 4, 2022

In This World, But Not Of It




“In this world but not of it.” 


My heart’s desire.



I love life. I love to see and experience new things.


But I want to be seen as different, (in a good way).


I hope that people see strength and courage in me that comes from deep convictions.


I hope they want to have the inner joy in me that comes from my faith and my God.


I hope that they want to love with all their heart and soul, as I do.


I hope.


I love America. I also love the people in all the nations I’ve got to step foot in.


I love children and unborn babies.


My heart bleeds for the widowed and the homeless. For the child who doesn’t know the love of a mom and a dad.


This is my world. And I do love it so.


But I always want to be a little bit out of step with it. Sometimes, a lot.


I want to never quite conform. Never quite fit the mold. Never quite be so comfortable that I don’t look up and long for the “ever after”.


In this world, but not of it.


I don’t want to fit in so much, that there is nothing I would long for, apart from my God.


I am so thankful for life. For love. For family, friends, and a world full of mystery and beauty.


But my heart is sold out. Bought at a price. 


And I’m completely “in”. In so deep that I can’t get out. I don’t want to get out.


I want to see what He sees. Love how He loves. Grieve how He grieves. And soak it all in. Feel every minute of the fullness of life. The joys, the sorrows… all of it.


Because I’m in this world. And I love this world. But it can never have my soul.  For I’m not part of it.


I can’t lose sight of where I come from. Or where I’m going.


There is an inner boundary I must always hold up, as I remember where the true treasure is.


May that boundary always hold firm.



Saturday, June 4, 2022

Acceptance





Acceptance.


Acceptance of ourselves is one of the hardest things we may learn in our lifetime. Accepting the fact that we are overweight, but still beautiful. Accepting that we are very emotional, yet still have the right to feel things. Accepting that we are alone, but valuable company. The excuses are as vast as the struggles. 



We are so hard on ourselves. We are so hard on others.



Everyone is different. Yet everyone is the same inside. We all long to be worthy. To be loved. To be held in high esteem. And no, not everyone will accept us. Not everyone will see past the “look” or the things we project. But most often? Most often - they will. And the thing holding us back the most… is ourselves.


WE don’t feel we are worth it. We just can’t begin to accept the flaws, missteps, inadequacies, imperfections, and “unique” things that make us up. The things we have labeled “less than” acceptable.


But if we could? If we COULD see ourselves authentically enough to know that some things we can work on and in the process still be lovable, valuable, and fun? Oh what milestones we could make in life! What joy we could discover! What things we could do!


Acceptance starts and ends with us. It means we learn to be okay with our weaknesses, while still trying to work on them in the process. 


Growth is always possible. But we can’t sit back and wait for it to come in order to live, to love, and to give of ourselves to life.


EVERYONE is valuable. EVERYONE has gifts to give. We all come in different sizes, packages, and doses. That’s what makes everyone so uniquely fascinating and beautiful!


Learn to accept where you are. What you’ve been given. And just LOVE the life you’ve been given and the people placed in it.


The first step to freedom is acceptance. That first step may be hard - but it is so worth it.


Take one today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Becoming Part of Someone's Life Story





Growing up, there was a sweet older neighbor lady across the street. Her name was Rosie. Rosie had a tomato garden and every summer she would bring over tomatoes from her garden. One of the ones she grew, were small, little yellow pear tomatoes. I grew to love them. I would eat them warm, and ripe from the sun.


To this day, I love yellow pear tomatoes. Maybe because I actually do enjoy them. But maybe, also in part, because there is a sweet warm memory attached to them.


Rosie became a part of my story. 


We all have a life story. But what we often don’t realize, is how often we wind up in someone else’s story.


There was also Reuben Larson at church. The man with the twinkle in his eyes, the robust heart “Santa Clause-like” laugh, who always belted out my name in such hearty joy. And he would always say it wrong. He knew me. He cared for me. And yet he could never get my name right. And I didn’t care. Not one bit. In fact, it endeared me to him all the more.  I grew to love Reuben as a child. And I grieved when he died of cancer. 


Reuben became a part of my life story.


These people crafted me. They invested in me. They loved me.


There are so many more people along my road in life, who have become a part of my life story. Shannon, who nurtured and took me under her wing when I lived far from home. Carl, who always believed in me, and ended up becoming my boss, and dear friend. JoAnn - with her small hamburger diner, who made me feel special with her extra love and attention.


Strangers at first, these people. But they cared. They loved. And they became embedded in my heart.


I wonder if I will wind up in anyone’s story? Have I done anything I think is normal or simple, that someone else will always remember and cherish. Do they tell stories about that neighbor lady, or the girl at the supermarket who helped them?


We each have our own life story. We have people who became embedded in our hearts. But we all play a character in someone else’s as well. Do we play a good character, or one we’d rather erase? Did we say something unkind or mean, and someone always remembered it? For we can be remembered - good AND bad.


I pray that I will always keep in mind how I treat others and that I can do something to make someone else’s life a little better and easier. 


May that be a wish for all of us.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Mistakes Happen



We are free to make mistakes. We are free to feel what we feel about those mistakes. 


As long as we learn and grow from them.


No one gets every choice or decision right in life. No one is perfectly eloquent in every reply, or does the right thing in every circumstance. So many of us regret speaking when we should be quiet, and being quiet when we should speak up.


Mistakes.


The thing is - we tend to beat ourselves up about those “missed” occasions, moments, and words. Humanly speaking, there might be apologies that need to be made. There might need to be some hard truths we speak to our own heart and soul about our motivations and our actions. But once those are dealt with and given - we need to sew the “mistake” into a legacy.


No one gets through life doing it all perfectly. 


God says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” NONE of us, gets it all right. 


It can be hard to see ourselves with objective eyes.  Even IF we know and acknowledge our imperfections, truly allowing ourselves to feel things without shaming or criticizing ourselves in the process, is hard.


So I say, feel. FEEL. Cry. Get angry (in a safe environment). Feel “Blue” for a bit. But then get yourself up. Allow God to empower you to turn that “feel” into “fuel”. Do something right for yourself and for others. Be better next time. Stronger, Wiser. Gentler. Kinder. More thoughtful.


But GROW.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Finding Strength




Strength looks different for every individual.


For one person, strength may look like standing up and using their voice in a firm way, to protect boundaries that they usually never set up.


For another person, strength may look like having a smile on their face and a determined “joy” in their life, despite the hurts and scars that sting every morning that they wake up.


Still… for someone else… strength may look like not letting life chase the “belief” in goodness, right out of them.


Strength can show up in so many ways.


But one thing I never believe strength shows up as… is meanness. Harsh tones.  Bitterness. Payback. Or Indifference.


Strength - although it has a solid, firm, determined, resolute component to it…. Also involves gentleness, compassion, forgiveness, freedom, and love.


For even though those are “soft” words - they take great strength to have when you have open wounds, deep scars, and painful memories.


Strength.


It’s hard to grow strength. But it’s like a muscle. Once used, it gets easier to re-use. We just need to tap into that part of us that is tough to get into. The part that acknowledges all is not as we wish it would have been. That all is not as we wish it IS. But we refuse to let that knowledge define us, corrupt us, steer us into another direction, or.. simply put.. win.


I pray strength for your life. And for mine. I pray God will breathe strength into my heart when I want (and have a right to) criticize, or grow hard. I pray God will grow strength in my soul when I’m weary.


Whether one day it looks like a cheerful disposition, and another day a silent determination not to engage - may we all learn that strength that comes from the Lord is always directed towards TRUTH and GOODNESS for everyone involved.


True strength has wisdom, discernment, and purpose always intertwined in it.


Let us draw on THAT. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Weapon of Prayer



Battles. We wage so many spiritual battles. Life is not for the faint of heart, for sure.


I was thinking recently about something I was taking to the Lord in prayer. Something that weighed heavily on my heart. It grieved me. And I thought, “Oh, but if more of us were grieved - how many more things would we fight for? How many more would we take to the Lord in prayer?”


There have been many “things” and “people” over the years that have weighed heavily on my heart. Things that just won’t leave me. Not for a second. 


I pray, but with these situations, I have prayed heavily. Heartily. Daily. Moment by moment. For somehow, I recognized the life or death balance that was going to be decided. And I wasn’t about to give satan victory.


So many times, we pray privately over things and people. Which prayer is NEVER bad. And we certainly don’t want to gossip about people or betray trust or relationships. But there are times (probably more times than we’d admit or acknowledge) when we need to invite others into our fight and into our prayers. 


I’m not sure why we keep things so quiet. Maybe it’s because we’re ashamed or don’t want someone else to be ashamed. But maybe - just maybe - we need to go public a little more often as we battle for someone’s soul.


Oh, how the earth may tremble as we cry out God’s name in earnest for someone we love!


I think we need more of that.


So, this time, I did that. I waged war with satan. I invited others in my prayers. Into my heart. Into my grief. 


“Where two or three are gathered together in my name….”


More of our prayers need to be waged in earnest. In yelling for intervention. In longing. In grief. 


We’ve grown too apathetic. To blasé. Too calm about our prayer life and in our fight for those we love.


Let’s run into those moments with our shields on, our armor up, and a backbone ready to fight.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

That's What a Father Does


God has  a great way of keeping me humble. I’m so thankful He does that in my life, because that’s the kind of person I want to be - humble, compassionate, kind, generous. But it can be painful to get this lesson straight from the heart of God.


Just when I’m in a moment and on the edge of losing empathy… God comes down and speaks straight into my heart, my life, my world. He knows when I tend to lose the very qualities I long so much to hold close. He knows when I’m growing just a little bit harder, colder, critical.


He knows I need reminding of what’s important.


God knows when to have me deal with health issues, so that I regain compassion for those who constantly struggle with health.


God knows when to sting my heart with loneliness, so that I am reminded to love on the one who is all alone.


God knows when to say “no” to  my wishes and dreams, because I have overlooked how blessed I already am.


And God knows when to be gentle with His nudges, and when I need a bold dash of lightning from Him - so that I soften my tongue, gentle my heart, slow my assumptions, and melt my bitterness.


He is so perfect.


I am in need of grace. I have been in need of mercy. I have stuck my foot in my mouth. I have judged. I have had a hardened heart. I have failed to forgive at times. I have been proud. Yes, I have done and been all of these things. Some in moments, some lasting longer.


But I am so thankful that my God doesn’t like to leave me there. Just when I think I know something decisively, He shows me how little I really knew. Just when I stand my ground in firm decision; He shows me how much ground I have yet to walk. 


For He loves me. 


That’s what a Father does. He does what is best for His child when He knows they have so much more potential to give. And He corrects when correcting is needed.


This world can so easily chip away at our character. Without seeing or knowing it, bit by bit, we harden. We turn our back. 


We ignore.


I’m so glad my Lord continues to readily soften me. Remind me. Restore me. Turn me back around and bend me. 


For I can always use MORE. More compassion, more humility, and MORE of Him.


Undeserving, as I am, I am eternally thankful He doesn’t leave me the same.

Monday, November 15, 2021

I Just Want to Enjoy The Ride



Life is a journey. And the saying goes, “I just want to enjoy the ride.” 


That’s true - to a degree. Life is such a gift to us. It is here for our enjoyment. The travel, the celebrations, the restaurants, the concerts, the fun photos we take….. all of it.


But there is so much more to life, than just “enjoying the ride.”


When I’m 80, I don’t want to look back at my life and simply see how many plane rides I took, or many shows I attended. I want to see how many relationships I built, and how many lives I was able to invest in.


Life is about relationships.


It’s about sitting up at 2 in the morning and holding a friend who is in the grips of grief. 


It’s about feeding those who are hungry. 


It’s about offering that empty room in our house to someone who needs some “love time” and can get it nowhere else.


It’s about standing up for the person no one else will stand up for.


It’s about our children watching and learning from us as we kneel in prayer, are honest when we think no one is watching, are generous with our money, and investing our lives into others.


It’s about people. 


Life is about hugs. Embraces. A shared laugh. A phone call after 20 years. A tired body and soul that gives up its days for ministry.


Contrary to what we are told in life, it’s not about doing what’s right for ourselves. It’s knowing who we are, and being right with ourselves ,and throwing ourselves into doing, loving, and investing into OTHERS.


Others.


That is the real journey. The real ride.