Sunday, December 27, 2015

We Don't Get To Choose What Happens To Us

Life. It’s full of twists and curves.  The things we dream…. Sometimes come true. But sometimes, sometimes our lives are filled to the brim with unexpected challenges, hurdles, and surprises.

We never saw them coming.

I wouldn’t have chosen some people or things that have come into my life over the years. I certainly wouldn’t have chosen tears that I shed, or having a broken heart from time to time. I wouldn’t have chosen the scars that I still tuck deep inside. I wouldn’t have chosen certain challenges and hurdles that I’ve had to face. No. I wouldn’t have chosen them at all.

But they came. And I had to face them. I had to make decisions regarding them.

I had to choose who I was going to be THROUGH them, AFTER them, and BECAUSE of them.

I had to choose whether or not I would be shaped and identified by things in my life.

Sometimes those choices were easy. Having a strong faith makes certain decisions easy – even if the task in front of you is hard. But some of those choices were very, very hard. I had to face my own pride, selfishness, fears, and flaws. And I had to decide how I was going to proceed with my life from that point on.

We do not get to choose what happens to us in life. Oh, how I know we all wish we could!  We can orchestrate and plan and control as much as we are able – yet still – we can never control it all. We don’t get to choose how other people will react, what attitudes they will take, how our bodies will handle things, or where we will be at what point in time when nature shows us who is really in command.

We can only choose what we will do about it. We can only choose how it will shape us.

But from where I sit? Those are the most important choices of all. For they dictate so much about the rest of our lives.

No choice in life is ever small. Small choices always lead to bigger choices. So choose wisely. LIVE wisely. And as things unexpectedly get thrown at you, know that those are the defining moments for your life.

The moments of choice.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Someone Is Fighting For You

Some days it can be hard to feel noticed. Some days, let’s admit it, we feel alone. Not valued. Ignored.

I think of all the people I’m currently praying for. And I think of all the people I HAVE prayed for in the past. I think of the people who have told me that they have prayed for me. And this one thing I know – SOMEONE IS FIGHTING FOR YOU through prayer.

I know we all struggle with self esteem, and value at times. But I also know, that there have been people who have cared enough to pray for you. They’ve prayed when you’ve asked, and they’ve probably cared enough to pray for you when you DIDN’T ask. Because they love you.

There are people in your life, and in my life, who pray for us specifically, and unspecifically. They pray because they know of challenges and struggles in our life, and they pray because God prompts them to.

I know that if you are a child, chances are so great, that your parents, grandparents, or aunts and uncles have fought for you through prayer. Maybe they’ve physically fought for you, as well. But they’ve fought for your future… for your life.

If you live in a neighborhood, go to work, are involved in a small group, or have friendships – I’m betting that someone in your circle has brought you before the Lord in prayer. They have waged a battle on your behalf – out of their love, care, and concern for you.

We may feel alone some days. We may feel neglected. Maybe we don’t feel like we are anything special. We wonder, “why me?”  But I’m here to tell you, that you are cared for. You are thought of. It may have been by me. I’ve prayed for classmates, workmates, friends, family members, people in the news, people in the government, names of friends of friends who are concerned – and more. And, you may not have been prayed for by me, but by someone else. But you have most likely been prayed for – at least once – by someone who cared for you.

Let that digest a little bit. Let that sink in.  Someone thought of you. Someone prayed for you. And they may even be doing it now. Today.

You are wanted. You are needed. You are loved.

And someone is fighting for you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

You Can Be Who You Dreamed Of Being

Do you remember when you were a little girl, and you used to daydream about what you wanted to be when you grew up? You’d envision your life, job, family, and it would all be perfect in your head. You would be beautiful, (of course), really good at what you did, and have the most darling children.

You would make vows like, “I will never do this,” or “I will never be like that.”

I’m just wondering – except for the unattainable standards that reality has set straight… did you turn out like you dreamed? Did you get the life you dreamed of having? Are you who you wanted to be?

Life has a way of beating up our dreams sometimes. There are so many curves, corners, and twists – things we never saw coming our way.  As we navigate all of these, we can sometimes forget which direction it was that we wanted to head in, in the first place.

We can forget where we came from and who we are.

We just get a little lost.

But, it’s never too late to start becoming the person you want to be. It’s never too late to change habits, attitudes, or circumstances that have sidetracked you. It’s never too late to start laughing more, spending more time with those you love, becoming more patient, taking care of your health better, getting more organized, etc.


Some people may be surprised at your changes – at your shift. They may even try to hinder you, because they expect you to be who you’ve always been. But don’t let them. You CAN be the best version of yourself that you want to be.

Life is so much about choices. We impact the directions of our life by those very choices. Yes, some things can’t be helped. Some things happen TO us. But it’s how we react to those very things that dictate how we will be as people, and how our lives will be lived.

You CAN be the vision of that person you dreamed of being.  You can be happy with who you are. Don’t give up on those dreams that you once had. Alter them a little, maybe, but don’t give up on the dreams that are a part of your soul. For they are part of you.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Special Wedding

My oldest daughter got married a week ago. I don't think it has really registered, that I have a married daughter yet.

What a special, but crazy time the last couple of weeks have been! We've had family and friends fly in and step right up to the plate in helping us put on the wedding. 

It truly takes a village - and we were so thankful for ours!

My daughter's youth pastor from when we lived in Idaho, drove in to perform the ceremony. 

Her nephew carried her late-great-grandfather's Bible, instead of a ringbearer pillow. 

A deer snorted in the nearby bushes as if he was praying with all of us during prayer time. 

The mother-of-the-bride (me) and the bridesmaids all held hands and prayed right before the unknowingly to one another.... the fathers and groomsmen did the same in their dressing room.

Special moments. Special memories.

And so much love!!!

Was every moment perfect? No. It wasn't as dark as we had hoped it would be, so some of the lights didn't show up, and we ran out of some food (which I hope meant that it was yummy!) But - as I tell my daughter, it was "imperfectly perfect." It was THEIR day. They defied the odds of maintaining a long-distance relationship, and he made it through months and months of the immigration process, to come to America from England.

They have an open future ahead of them.

So, I have been very busy the last few months as we've prepared for this big day. Very, VERY busy the last few weeks! But there is no better way I would rather have spent my time, than with my precious daughter. With my loved ones. Laughing. Loving. Embracing hope for a new future in the next generation of our family.

It was all such a beautiful gift.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ouch! That Hurts!

Do you ever feel like God is just tweaking you? I mean that he seems to be cutting, chiseling, molding, sculpting, pushing, and pulling on you everywhere – bit by bit?

Sometimes I feel this way. I feel like the “me” that I thought was doing all right was decidedly not because God decides to show me all sorts of areas that fall short, need fixing, are selfish, prideful, or stubborn. Gosh, I hate that. It’s usually an especially painful process which for me – oftentimes means embarrassment, humbling, or tears being shed in some sort of way. I can often think, “How did I not see that, “or “How did I let that area of my life go on in that way without it being checked?”

Painful, I tell ya.

Then the road of life continues on and months go by. Things improve and I improve. (Usually).  I try to learn from my mistakes, mind you! And I look back and see in hindsight, that the tweaking was needed. That I like myself better because of the thorns that God removed.

The problem is – I know those seasons will come again. They always come. It’s a part of life. And I believe if I’m truly seeking His heart and wanting to grow and be the best for Him that I can be – that that will mean at some point that God will need to “tweak” me again. For life can so easily creep in! It sneaks in with the dark and I’m oftentimes not even aware that it happened.

For me – as much as I hate those seasons of molding and chiseling, I’m so thankful for them. For I don’t want to be left in those conditions. Not when I get to the other side and can look back and see what has now been refined.

I love that about my God. I love that He sees into the future and knows just what I need, just WHEN I need it.  I’m so grateful He’s never content to leave me “less than…”

He really does hear our prayers. If we ask Him to show us the way – He will. It’s just that when we ask, we don’t usually think of the sculpting that needs to be done on us in the process.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Something To Ponder

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart….” Luke 2:19

When I read my Bible or when I sit in church service and hear God speaking personally to my heart…. I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed how easy it is to leave that moment in time and continue on with my day – my life. It’s like, “Wow, that was good – now it’s time to get on with my agenda!”

But when I take the time to truly let something God is saying to me, soak into my heart and soul – those are the times where I truly grow. 

The key is in taking the time to ponder over what has been revealed to us. Whether it’s a Bible verse that is relevant, a Bible Study lesson that strikes a chord, or a sermon that is conveniently aimed at what we are feeling or experiencing; we need to take the time to ponder those lessons and think about why it is that God wants to share them with us.

If I listen, but don’t absorb – I don’t gain much. 

If I ponder, absorb, and let God’s messages to me permeate my life – I gain a lot.

It doesn’t matter how many Bible Studies we go to or how often we attend church. It doesn’t matter how many verses we know if they don’t go from our head to our heart and we have the spirit to apply them.  Going through actions isn’t enough. We need to ponder and invest our hearts and minds into truly hearing what God wants to tell us.

I have been guilty of going through the motions so many times. Putting in the time, getting the job done and then moving on to what I really want to do without truly absorbing. The times I have pondered on something, are the times that I’ve really seen God work in my heart and life. He’s moved me. 

I want God to work in my life. I want Him to use me. Move me. Thrill me. Speak to me. In order for that to happen, I need to take a little extra time for Him. To ponder what He’s telling me so that I won’t miss something really big. His Words really are treasures. Just waiting to shine.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Stop Diminishing Your Value

I often do that. Diminish my value. I don’t really realize I’m doing it at the time. Someone will compliment me and I’ll wave it away. They’ll ask about my writing and I’ll minimize it.

Why do we do that?

I think it’s because we compare. We compare ourselves to someone who is better.  Someone who is more beautiful, more eloquent, more gifted than we are.

So, maybe they are. But does that mean we don’t have worth? Does that mean we are not also gifted? And who “weighs” giftedness anyways?

I was recently in a conversation with someone about my writing. I told them that I may not be the most gifted writer around, but that I still believed God had things and words in me that He could use.  What this person told me in return meant a lot to me and showed me how I was minimizing the gifts that God had given me. They said, “you are a great writer because you write from the heart. I would much rather read something that is genuine and comes from someone who is "in the trenches" raising a family, than someone who has a PHd, and all of it comes from a "clinical" perspective. Don't discount how valuable your skills are. All that matters is that we bring God glory in our work. You do that in an outstanding way.”

Wow. WOW! They not only encouraged and affirmed my gift of writing, they gently told me not to discount and diminish the skills that God had given me!

We are each unique and individual. For a reason. We each have something different to bring to the table. Just because one person can bring the main course doesn’t mean that the appetizer is any less delightful or memorable.

We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and instead work on flourishing what we’ve been given. God has gifted each one of us in different ways.  We can be thankful for what He has given us instead of wishing it were stronger, bigger, wider, or fancier. We cannot be all that He intended us to be if we only focus on what we don’t have and can’t give.

Let’s stop diminishing our value.

Stop discounting how valuable our skills are.

Stop minimizing who we are and what we can contribute.

We each are outstanding in our own way and we each have something valuable to give. Enjoy it. Love it. Embrace it.

For you ARE valued and you DO have value to give.