Thursday, July 31, 2014

When No One Else Knows, HE Knows

That day my feelings were hurt and I told no one – God knew. He saw my tears that were shed in private.

That moment when I was angry with myself for saying something stupid – He knew. He saw me inwardly berate myself and call myself names, demeaning and putting myself down; thinking I should have known better.

That time I got really scared – God held me together. He walked with me and never let me go until I felt I was on safe ground again.

Those dreams I share with no one? He sees them. He’s working on them with me and for me. Cheering me on.

He sees it all. Those words I don’t say, those thoughts I don’t share, and those wishes I tuck inside.

And they are all safe with Him.

I know my God will never betray me. He won’t laugh at me for feeling what I feel. He won’t be angry with me for making that “countless” mistake I’ve made a hundred times over again.

He’s my shelter. My safe harbor. My protector and shield.

Sometimes I lie to myself about what I’m going through or thinking. But God knows the truth. He sees through my lies and doubts, and He still loves me.

What beauty there is in knowing that. How humbled it makes me. If I still myself long enough to dwell on those truths; how loved I feel.

There IS no greater love. And how thankful I am to feel just a piece of it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Birds

Birds have never bothered me. I like most of them. Their array of colors and noises. They are fun to watch.  Most of them.

The black birds that are always around in the parking lots of grocery stores or shopping malls? Those, I could do without.

Until now.

As many of you know, we are recent “newbies” to the state of Texas. And every time I go grocery shopping or out running errands, I see the beloved black bird hanging around. They are slightly bigger here in Texas than in the northwest. And they have become one of my favorite things.

You see, when they open their mouths to sing? It sounds so cheerful. So tropical. So cool! I absolutely love it. It makes me smile every time I hear it.

Who knew something so ordinary could have such an extraordinary sound?

It reminds me of how we judge each other by our outward appearance. Some of us aren’t colorful or darling on the outside. We are (by our own assessment) boring, normal, or even ugly.  But God has given us each a gift. It’s our song. And when we live within that gift and use it to the best of our abilities – a beautiful thing happens. We are transformed. Our voice becomes something of joy and beauty. Our appearance is changed and others are drawn to us.

Just like I am with these black birds.

Never underestimate yourself. Never belittle who you are. Something beautiful lives inside of you. You just need to find it and then sing it out for all the world to hear.  “This is me!” This is me!” And I promise, it will be beautiful.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Expect Something Better

All too often we “settle.” We settle for being in whatever financial state we’re in, we settle for a relationship that isn’t quite in our best interests, and we settle in jobs, or expectations that are placed upon us.

We settle because we don’t believe we deserve the best. But we do.

Whether we’re tired of waiting, have low self esteem, deem the work, “too hard,” or simply just feel like we are unlucky….each one of us can have a better outcome if we would only shift our thinking and attitudes. Even just a little bit.

I have found that when my day starts out rotten and I continue on thinking it will be a bad day, it often is. But if I can plug through the mess and still have a positive attitude, I often look back at the end of the day, surprised that it didn’t end up as horribly as I thought it would!

Attitude is everything.

If we expect better for ourselves – we will find better. Just as if we expect little for ourselves – we will find little.

We can make the absolute best of what we’ve been given and in doing so, suddenly we find that what we have isn’t so awful. It improves with perspective, time, and attitude.

Other people will believe in us more, help us more, and respect us more, if we show initiative and endurance, coupled with a positive attitude. It really is true that people who help themselves get farther in life!  You can’t sit back and wait for the world to take pity on you, for the world will just keep on walking.

Expect more out of yourself, and more FOR yourself. Dream. Give yourself boundaries and goals to work through and towards. Put positive people in your life who you can emulate and learn from. Pray. And smile. Laugh. Learn. Grow.

Expect something better. Hope for it. Wait for it. It will come.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When Life Sends You a Curve Ball

Life is full of curve-balls. We get on the road we want, head in the direction we want to end up in… and then it takes us twice as long because of a curve-ball thrown our way. One that frustrates, disappoints, and sometimes worries us to no end.

It’s that new job that ends up including work you didn’t intend on doing.  That class that changed teachers at the last minute, or the baby you’d waited so long to have that ends up having extra health issues.  It’s the day you set aside to get your work done and your computer goes on the blitz.

The curve-balls.

Do you ever wonder why they come? Why they seem to arrive at the worst possible time?  Is it because God wants to test us and see if we really want that ‘thing?’ Is it because He DOESN’T want us to get that ‘thing?’ Is it because we need to be reminded to have some humility?

You just want to yell out, “What is it, God? What? WHAT?”

Some curve balls are just minor nuisances. They are more like detours in our path. Other curve balls end up rerouting our end destination completely. They change everything.

When you feel like kneeling on your knees and putting your face to the floor in deep prayer before God, I think those are the curve balls that need deep attention. For they have completely captivated us.

I wish I knew why things don’t always go according to plan. I know in my heart, that of course, they all won’t. That they can’t. But I still wish and hope, that they will. I don’t have the answers for when they don’t… especially when I know at times, we all feel like we are heading the way we are supposed to.  I DO know that God will never leave us adrift. That there is always purpose in the shifting sand, and that He will give us the strength, peace, and support we need in those times.

There is always something to learn. Always room to grow. Sometimes it takes curve balls to remind us of what we need. Sometimes, they remove weeds growing in our life and heart, or sift out what needs sifting. But whatever they do – guaranteed – they were aimed our way for a reason.

The thing is? I don’t have to be afraid of them and neither do you. My God has a big catcher’s mitt. He can catch all those curve balls. Every. Single. One. And He will be there with me for every pitch and ball that heads my way. He’s not leaving.

For that, I am eternally thankful.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Some Day The House May Be Quiet

There are days where I long for some alone time. Some “me” time. I feel like I can’t do anything without interruption. Noise abounds. My beloveds are under foot in every room of the house and I long for quiet.

I long to do something without someone questioning what I’m doing, how long I’m doing it, and why I’m doing it.

Peace is what I seek. Stillness and freedom to do what I want, where I want, and for how long I want to, and to be accountable to no one.

On some days.

But I always remind myself that someday that noise will be gone. No one will be under foot. There won’t be a big family to cook for, or many clothes to iron. I won’t have any interruptions at all – and I will miss it. Dreadfully.

Some day the house may be quiet and I may go crazy in that still calm. I will crave the days of noise, laughter, and inconvenient interruptions. I will long for someone to notice what I’m doing, where I’m doing it, and why.

I will want the company. In every room of my house, at any time of day or night.

So now, even though sometimes I still know I need a little refreshment for my soul and some time to think and dream on my own….I don’t despise the noises. I don’t wish anyone in my house away….ever. For I see time ticking. I see the door opening and all too soon I know they will walk through it to their own homes and lives. Their own noises and hustle and bustle.

Some day my house may be quiet. But for today, it is full. And it is rich. And I am thankful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You Will Get Through This

Strength. It’s a funny thing. When we are going through something really hurtful or challenging.

We feel so weak. Like we have no strength of our own. Yet, in hindsight, when we’ve gotten to the other side of that hurdle in our life and looked back on it, we sometimes see a different story. Maybe there was physical weakness or emotional weakness. But usually, there is strength present in some form. If we were physically weak, God gave us emotional strength. If we were emotionally weak, God gave us physical strength. Sometimes it’s simply spiritual strength that He gives us – even if we don’t want to recognize or acknowledge it.  And sometimes, our strength is drawn from the “others” in our life who love us “well.”

Trials. Oh, boy, do they come. They usually blindside us. But they come.

Are you in one right now? Is your heart heavy? Have you been sitting in the “wait” of a season, which seems like it has gone on forever and ever? Do you feel physically weak?  Are you sad? Lonely? Frustrated?

Let me tell you that it won’t last forever. You WILL get through this. Because, God is giving you a strength that you may not see right now. He loves you. Oh, how He loves you and me!

I remember a spiritual battle that plagued my heart and life for years. YEARS. But that one day came, that finally, FINALLY the clouds parted and it was over. I was released.

I made it through. Sure. I was a little beaten up on the inside. After all, it had been a long battle. I still carry some scars from it with me. But I made it through. Wiser.  Softer, hopefully. More willing to give grace and mercy to others.

I made it through. And so will you. 

We can look back someday on our lives and see all of the things we have gone through. All the mountaintops, desert experiences, sun-scorched land, and horrific storms that have swept over us from season to season. In each one, I bet, we felt like we hardly had the strength to get through it. But you do. Get through it. You wake up, you breathe, you pray, you put one foot in front of the other and you get – through – it.  And before you know it, you wake up, you breathe, and you smile before you pray. Then you wake up, breathe, smile and sing. And you feel thankful. Blessed. For you know where you’ve been and you know who has brought you through it. And that knowledge will stick with you through the next battle that will come.

He will be there with you through it. He will provide the strength and courage you need – in some form or another.

You can do this. You will make it through.

Just don’t give up. A brighter day is coming.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why Don't We Ask?

Our God is a BIG God. He can do anything for us.

When my dishwasher breaks, He can fix it.

When I need a job, He can provide one.

When I run out of cash, God can supply some out of thin air for me.

When we’re stuck for what to say at Bible Study, as we write, create a presentation for work, or in handling an awkward situation….God can give us the right words.

When we need self-control with food, our words, our  children, our drinking or anything…God can give us that self-control that we struggle to find for ourselves.

Whatever we are going through – God can fill that gap for us.

So, why don’t we ask? Why do we forget that He can do the big AND the small?

Do we think we can handle it ourselves? Do we think He doesn’t care about the small details in our lives like a new pair of jeans? What, exactly, is it?

Just as I want my children to come to me with small concerns as well as big ones, I believe God wants us to come to Him. He considers it an honor. And it grows our intimacy with Him to have Him walk with us through all our journeys, concerns, and struggles in life.  Yes, He can handle the big ones. But He can also handle the small. In fact, I bet He HAS handled many small details in our lives without us coming to Him at all.

Because He loves us. And because He cares. About all of it.

So, let’s ask. Ask BIG and ask SMALL. Ask in faith and ask in doubt. But ASK.

He wants us to.

Friday, July 11, 2014

10 Ways to Romance Your Husband, That Are Free

When you have kids, it can be hard to continue to keep the flicker alive in your marriage. After all, who feels romantic when they are wiping up baby food, spit-up, and messes all day long? Usually, a young wife just wants to throw up her feet at the end of the day and tell her husband, “Here! The kids are yours!”  Those moments don’t exactly speak of love and romance.

There is a way to do little things for your spouse along the way. Things that don’t take much effort or cost. Things you can do right at home.  Things that keep the romance alive so that you can steal minutes here and there for one another.

Here is a list of 10 things my husband and I did for each other at one point or another when we were in our first few years of marriage. We didn’t have a lot of extra money and we’d moved away from family, so we didn’t have any sitters when our kids were young. These ideas were easy, romantic, and worked for us in reminding us that we still needed to focus on each other.

1.     Pull the mattress off your bed and place by the fireplace and in front of the television. (If both are possible.) Light some candles, and watch a pay-per-view movie, or rent one. This, of course, must be done after the “littles” are in bed. Go to sleep on the mattress by the fire.

2.     Take a bubble bath together. Again, this can be done after the kids are asleep. Light candles all around the bath, play some romantic music, and just relax together.

3.     Put a love note or card in his car. When he leaves for work first thing in the morning, he will climb into his car and find a note from you. (Sometimes you can add his favorite candy!) What a great way to start his day away from home….with a smile on his face, and thoughts of you!

4.     When making pancakes for breakfast, make your spouse ones that are in the shape of a heart. You can also do this with cookies by using a cookie cutter.

5.     In the warm summer months, sit out on the back patio after dark. Sit on a porch swing together or grab a blanket and lay out on the grass and look up at the stars.

6.     Oftentimes, we are too tired at the end of the day to want to do anything but sleep. So, instead you can focus on the morning. On a Saturday, give your spouse the day off. Tell them to enjoy the day in bed. They can read, watch movies, or write. Bring them meals and just let them have a day of R&R with you pampering them. This takes a little more effort, but the rewards are so worth it later on.

7.     Do a couples devotional together at bedtime. Some have very easy chapters that aren’t long, but just give a “nugget” of information to chew on together. Take turns reading a chapter each night.

8.     Eat together by candlelight after the kids are in bed. Make it an indoor picnic by throwing a blanket on the floor and drinking out of your wedding goblets (if you had some).

9.     Leave little notes. You can slip notes in his sock drawer, on a paper pad that he uses, in his pants pocket, etc. Place notes in places that he will find right away – and some that he won’t find for a while. Just let him know that you love and appreciate him.

10. Do small chores for him. Take out the garbage. Sweep the garage. Clean his grill. Bring him a cold drink when he’s out mowing the yard or a warm one when he’s hanging Christmas lights. Show him you appreciate the efforts he makes around the house.

I’m sure you can think of many more ideas to add to this list. But hopefully, this will help you get started and remind you to focus on one another even when life seems dreadfully busy.

For the best parents are happily married ones!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Did We Get So Messed Up?

I am in my early 40’s. I’ve lived a little bit of life now, and I’ve seen the “little bit of life” that friends and family have lived. I’ve experienced deep joys and great heartaches.  I’ve watched people make colossal mistakes and I’ve observed others get “lost” in the process of life.

And I wonder.  How did we get so messed up? How did life conquer some of us?

Some of us not only got “lost,” we fell into a deep pit and couldn’t find a way out. We let unexpected trials and tribulations overcome us. Rule us. Win us.

Personal Insecurities.

They snuck up on us. They invaded our hearts, souls, and our minds. They took over.

And we let them.

It wasn’t part of the dream. We never intended to be a person ruled by depression. We didn’t think we’d ever have an issue with fear. We couldn’t have possibly dreamed that rejection would change the course of our lives. Change and mold US.

But it did. It HAS.

And we are a little messed up.

We don’t know how to function ‘normally’ anymore. These issues have become friends that not only shouldn’t have stayed – they never should have been let in. But here they are. Messing with us.

Can we overcome? Can we slay these little beasts and dragons who have toyed with our emotions and sanity?


It may be a tough battle. Tougher than we could have thought possible. But we CAN overcome. We don’t have to stay ‘messed up.’ We just need to reach out for help. Admit where we are weak. Acknowledge what ground in our life has been taken – and fight. Fight HARD. Fight for our inner freedom. Our health. Our life.

We can be free. Free from anxiety. Free from fear. Free from depression. Free from whatever it is that has taken over.

We don’t have to let the darkness of life win.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Guess I'm an "In-Case" Kind of Girl

I’m a “saver.” I like to save things. I save money “in case of emergency.” I like to have extra food on hand “in case of company.” I save clothes even though I don’t like them “in case I need them or find replacements.”

I guess I’m an “in case” girl. I want to be prepared. Equipped. Not caught off guard.

I’m not a hoarder, mind you. It’s always just a “little” extra. Probably not even enough to really address an emergency if a big one came up. After all, how far can $100 extra dollars go if you are in a car accident and have major medical bills?

But it makes me happy. It makes me feel safe.

God tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink. He tells us to just deal with whatever is in front of us – today. It’s usually enough to occupy our minds! So, worrying and planning for things that aren’t even here yet? Well, He says not to.

What does that mean for a “saver” and “in case” planner type of girl like me?

It means I need to have more faith and trust in the God I adore so much. It means I should enjoy my today more – because my tomorrow is not guaranteed.

There are many things I’ve waited to get. That new piece of furniture, for example. I’ve waited until I found the exact, right piece, or waited for it to wear out. I’ve had a hard time getting rid of things that I don’t like anymore or where my preferences have changed, if they aren’t falling apart.  And most of the time, I end up continuing to wait. I have things that just aren’t “me” anymore. I have things that I don’t enjoy as much as I could.

I don’t believe in being wasteful with our money, our time, or our things. I’m actually pretty frugal. But I do believe that sometimes we should allow ourselves the freedom to relax and enjoy the blessings we’ve been given a little bit more. Joy shouldn’t be such a rare commodity. We should embrace the fun things in life and trust God to help provide for us – as long as we are using wisdom with what we’ve been given and where we’ve been placed.

I want to be wise. I want to stretch my dollar and so I probably will always be a “saver” in some form or capacity. But I also want to have the good sense to know when to throw caution to the wind and just enjoy a moment and enjoy a blessing without thinking of the cost that came with it.

It’s possible. It can be done. And I can still feel happy and safe.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Moments That Shape a Life

There are some things in life that time can’t erase. The memory, the smell… it lingers in your heart because of the emotions that it carried with it.

There are some moments that can’t be relived or replaced. They can’t be redone. They were one magical, beautiful moment in time. Not always joyful, (for times of sorrow can be beautiful in their own way, as well).

These are the moments to cherish and remember. No one can ever steal them away from  you. They are yours. You own them. You carry them with you. Always.

That moment when you first laid eyes on your just-born baby and smelled them.

The first time your spouse said, “I love you.”

Saying goodbye to someone who was about to pass away. Touching and hugging them for what you knew would be the last time.

A joyful moment of celebration over a hard-earned, and hard prayed-for victory.

Watching your child pull away from the driveway and drive away for the first time… on their own. You can still remember the feel of the weather on your skin that day.

Sitting in your now-child’s empty room after they’ve left home to be on their own.

The hug and love of a grandparent.

Watching a miracle unfold before your very eyes.

Those are the moments. The ones to hold onto. The ones to allow your heart to shape into something tender and authentic. The moments where you can still recall the smells and sounds.

Those are the moments that shape a life. They are defining. They are yours.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oh, To Be a Better Person

I was humbled, inspired, and touched recently by the generosity of some of God’s people. I received an amazing display of how we are supposed to act and be towards others.

I had flown back to Idaho for about 18 hours to help my stepson and daughter-in-law drive the 2 ½ day trip to Texas with their 3 small kiddos.  It was tiring, but it was oh-so-fun to be a part of a new life transition with them.

When we arrived, we found the rental home they were supposed to move into, was in very poor condition. So poor, that it was not livable. You can imagine the emotions that accompany that. A long drive, keeping little ones happy, sadness at leaving loved ones behind, excitement over a new job and life, and then a home that is not what you thought it would be. 

People were already arriving to help them unload from the truck and things were moving quickly. It can be awkward to try and make an unpopular decision with new friends around. And when you do make it, then what?

The truck was unloaded very quickly by the time the decision was made that this home was just not livable. Especially with three little ones. 

So now, my stepson and daughter-in-law found themselves homeless and in a new state.

I have never seen such generosity in all of my life.

First of all, multiple people were on their phones trying to track down a new home for them to rent and live in. People were driving around town looking at homes. More people were called to come over and load the truck back up. A long-term motel was booked for their family.

And that was only the beginning.  In the middle of all of this, a new fridge arrived for them that had been purchased for them after they discovered their home did not have a fridge at all.

A storage unit was found for them. Free.

Their long-term motel for the next few weeks – paid for.

God was blessing them, as well as my family, as we stood by and watched the grace, generosity, and love unfold.

All of this was on top of the gifts that arrived for them with generous gift cards, over 10 boxes of pizza for the helpers, and kindness. Loads of kindness.

All I could think was, “This is how God wants us to be. These are the kind of people we should be.” Generous. Giving. Forgiving. Gracious. Loving. Helpful.

It was so refreshing to see such authenticity and selflessness. It was so humbling.

I was inspired to be a better person. To be more giving and less selfish with my time and money.  And I was thankful that my grandkids, stepson, and daughter-in-law were in such good hands.

We can all be better people. We can all give more. Love more. Help more. We all have “more” that we can offer to others. We just need to make the effort.

Others will be better off from the love we show them. And so will we.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Coming To Terms With Beauty

This world we live in is so focused on beauty and image. We post photos of ourselves (only our good ones) online, and botox is becoming a familiar word. The world doesn’t elevate the aged. It doesn’t cater to them or care for them in the way that it should.

The older I get, the more I value the elderly. I see a lifetime of true living that is held within their eyes. I see the youth that still runs inside of their heads and the love that they still crave to not only get – but give.

And I see the beauty. A beauty that can only be defined by living a complete and full life.

When you are young, you think having a bad hair day is the worst of your worries. But the older you get, the grey hair creeps in, and the hair actually thins (or goes bald for men) and you realize a bad hair day was nothing.

When you are young, you feel miserable with a cold. But as you get older, you have deeper problems to worry about. Hip replacements, arthritis, and acid reflux are just a few of the battles your body strives to overcome.

Younger people worry about being tan in the summertime. White legs are laughed at, when wearing shorts or a swimsuit. But when you are older, you see the varicose veins and the loose skin around your middle section and long for the day that white legs were all you worried about!

Yes, age happens. You can prolong it. Disguise it. But you can’t halt it.

It is the cycle of life.

We need to come to terms with the fact that beauty isn’t all there is to a life. For we won’t always have beauty. Not the kind the world appreciates.  We are more.

If we can value one another for what lies underneath the skin – instead of simply what is on top of it, I don’t think we’d struggle so much with losing youth and vitality. We could age more gracefully in the confidence that we matter.

Beauty is like a whisper. It’s only here for a moment.  And we can do what we can to be attractive – that’s not a horrible thing to want.  But we can also strive for something more lasting. Something that comes from the inside. For it will outlast the fading beauty of youth. It will impact longer and will resonate within all those it touches.

That’s true beauty. The heart and soul of a person.

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