When your heartstrings get snagged

If you are a grandparent or a parent, you will be able to relate to the emotions that are tied to this story. Actually, MOST people will be able to relate because of life experiences.

My granddaughter, Natalie, recently started preschool. She FaceTimed us last week to tell us she had just completed day 1. It was a good day and her smile said it all.

However, the second day didn’t start off as well. The excitement of starting something new was gone and she woke up with tears streaming down her cheeks. She told her mommy and daddy she didn’t want to go. Some extra time was spent reminding her how much she enjoyed the first day. However, she still wanted to stay home. I’m sure most people can relate to what that feels like when you prefer to stay in the comfort and safety of your home.

My heart was a little heavy that morning and I couldn’t stop thinking about her – wondering how her day was going. My grandma instinct kicked in — and I kept thinking how wonderful it would be if I lived closer so that I could help in some way. I’m really not sure what I could do there to make a difference, but still — I was grateful that I could pray to the One who could be there.

It wasn’t long before my daughter-in-law sent me a text message that morning to share some incredible news. When they walked in the preschool, a little brown-haired girl ran from the other side of the room as soon as she spotted Natalie and asked if she would be her new best friend. Needless to say, that little brunette made a huge difference in how my granddaughter viewed being at school. The two girls immediately began to play and are now building a wonderful friendship. Once again — preschool was a good place to be.

What an excellent reminder her experience is for us all. Sometimes we don’t know when someone is struggling. However, God knows. And when God puts someone on your heart, it’s for a good reason. When we take the time to walk across the room to let someone know that they are noticed, it can turn their day around in a heartbeat – maybe their life. Who is God putting on YOUR heart?

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~ Philippians 2:3-4

I love you, dad. For eternity.

Beyond the grave.

I did something out of the ordinary today – I visited my dad’s grave. He’s been gone now for eighteen years, and I still seek the comfort I need by reliving all of my favorite memories. I know it’s a personal choice, but for me, I would much rather focus on what we had and what was good. Visiting the cemetery only reminds me that what I loved came to an end.

After I got out of my car and stood there for a few moments where he was buried, I felt a gentle breeze sweep through my hair. It was like God was nudging me to look up and beyond the grave.

I was glad that He caught my attention because I was blessed with what appeared to be a water color painting of trees that were yellow, orange, and green – all lined with the wonders of a golden colored bean field.

Losing someone in this life is hard. However, when we look beyond the grave – we receive comfort and peace when we remember the beauty of where our loved one now lives – for eternity.

Change

I always love it when I see that first leaf that reveals summer is coming to an end. Most of the leaves are still green, and then before you know it most of them have changed. There’s nothing like stumbling upon a rainbow of colors scattered around a tree. For me, this season is magical in Indiana.

Some people will say they do not like it because they know what comes next – snow, cold temps, and possibly icy roads. However, many embrace this time of the year. They love the cooler temps, change in their wardrobe, activities like bonfires, hayrides, football, and carving pumpkins. And, best of all – the anticipation of what colors they’re going to see each year. Sometimes the dominant color is red, and sometimes it might be yellow. Some years, orange. You just never know.

Although this season is one of my favorites, my husband has a different opinion. He loves it when it’s near 90 degrees. He enjoys being outside, so that means he likes activities such as gardening, mowing, and running. Let me tell you what, we are opposite in almost every way! He runs, I walk. He likes his food HOT, and I really don’t care as long as it’s edible. He likes to go, go , go – and I need to space things out. I like pineapple on my pizza, and he does not. He notices details, and I do not. I’m a huge dog fan. Him – not so much.

However, there’s one thread that keeps us together – and that’s our faith. Without it, I’m not sure we would’ve lasted 36 years. I respect his opinion, and he respects mine. I love Jesus, and so does he. We both fail, and we both seek forgiveness.

I’m here to testify that God’s love unifies. It covers sin. It forgives. Gives grace when needed. God’s love never fails.

If you are struggling in your marriage, maybe it’s time for a change – a change in your heart.

Tears in a Bottle

If you’ve ever wondered if the creator of the universe really cares about you when your heart is broken – read on.

“You

keep track

of all

my sorrows.

You have

collected

all

my tears

in your bottle.

You have recorded

each

one

in

your

book.”

Psalm 56:8

He does...

I Believe in You

Mighty Savior. JESUS. Lover of my soul. Powerful. The ALMIGHTY God. Abba Father. Son of God. Prince of Peace. Holy Spirit.

These words tell me who YOU are. However, they remind me who I am – YOUR child. Your daughter. Chosen.

So then, why do I run elsewhere for strength – peace – healing – trust – comfort – wisdom – self-confidence – identity – confirmation – and love? Why do I depend on other people to fill those needs when you are the only one who truly knows my heart? Please help me to see me like you see me.

I love you, Jesus.

Thank you.

Goals

I remember watching my three sons shoot hoops almost every day when they were growing up. Often times I would catch one of them outside alone, aiming for the net – over and over. Our oldest loved going for the 3 pointers. One son loved to take on the challenge of dribbling past a sibling or a friend and taking it in for a layup. One particular son was satisfied (actually, his day was made) when he could participate in a neighborhood pick-up game.

Isn’t that the way it is in life? Some of us get a thrill when we take that long shot, while others have that competitive nature but want to take some time and come up with a strategy. And then there are those who thrive on the camaraderie of life. For them it’s not necessarily about achieving a goal, it’s about spending time with others.

It’s a shame that we can’t seem to find a way to appreciate the way God created others. 

 

How do we get there?

 

A few pointers from God

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” Romans 14:13

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak. and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:1-2

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

I will follow Him

“Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” ~ Mark 4:40

Dispute Resolution

The first time I heard about dispute resolution was way back when my son was in law school. Here’s the definition via Google:

Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties. The term dispute resolution is sometimes used interchangeably with conflict resolution, although conflicts are generally more deep-rooted and lengthy than disputes.”

Google’s definition of conflict resolution:

Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, or emotional. When a dispute arises, often the best course of action is negotiation to resolve the disagreement.”

Looking at the world around us, I truly believe that we all would benefit from taking a class or two to learn how to address differences in opinion – because we truly don’t know how to talk about it or how to properly receive it.

Friends, we are failing in so many ways. We are taking things out of context to back us up when we take a stand when we shouldn’t, and we’re being quiet when we should be making Scripture or God’s Wisdom known. Seriously, what a screwed up world we live in!

No wonder young children don’t know how to handle a simple situation like when a classmate removes a toy from his hands. Some say he should turn the other cheek and that it shouldn’t be a big deal, while others say he needs to learn to stand up for himself and grab the toy back. And then there’s the third – go to someone (teacher or parent) who can intervene and help both sides see what needs to take place. A child quickly learns what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve watched many children throw fits because of the above – and I’m sure the tantrums are their way of expressing ‘I’m mad, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to change what happened’. Isn’t that what we are witnessing on the news with the riots?

I agree 1000% that things need to change. People need to treat others with respect. We need to do a better job of listening. However, I feel it all comes down to the heart. Who is on the throne of your life? Who do you love most? Reputation? Self? Politics? President? Pride? History? Or, is it God? Whomever it is, I’m sure your words and actions reveal it.

Hope for you

We planted sunflowers and zinnias in our garden this year. Still waiting on the sunflowers to bloom. However, the zinnias are absolutely beautiful. I love all the different colors and details that make them all so unique.

I recently decided to gather a few and make a bouquet. I’m not very experienced with this, so I searched YouTube for advice from so-called experts who give you all sorts of tips. (By the way, the tips were great!) Although my goal was to learn the proper or best way to put flowers together – like approximately how many you should use so that it doesn’t look too crowded and how many different lengths are best, there was a piece of information that stood out – the meaning behind a zinnia.

First, it’s a symbol of endurance. The reason behind this is most likely because It blooms from mid-summer until the first frost. Second, it is a symbol of a lasting friendship. Let me tell you what, with everything we have experienced the last few months — like all the restrictions due to COVID-19, the constant bickering about masks, people destroying property because they want justice, riots and removing statues, and the ongoing battle about politics, we all need what this flower stands for – endurance and lasting friendships!

The only thing missing is Jesus – and without Him, we have nothing.Thankful for the hope and peace that He provides when we put our trust in Him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Timeless Gift of Time

I have several friends who have mentioned over the years that they never know what to buy their dad for birthdays, Father’s Day, or Christmas. I remember struggling with the same thing when I was young – so my usual go-to was something exciting like socks, underwear, a tie or cologne. As ridiculous as that may sound, I honestly didn’t know what else to buy him. Unfortunately, he never told me what he needed or what he would like. I have learned that most dads just want to spend time with their children because time just seems to evaporate and none of us will live forever.

The same is true with our Heavenly Father. How much time and effort do we give or show that we love Him? Don’t get me wrong, I know He already knows our thoughts and what’s in our heart – there’s no pretending with Him. He KNOWS if we truly love Him. The thing is, we are bold enough to make statements like “He’s my Savior. I’m a born again Christian. I LOVE Jesus. I don’t know how I did life without Him!” and then fall short when it comes to spending time with Him. As a matter of fact, many “believers” don’t even think about Him unless something has gone wrong and they lift up a prayer because, you know, that’s His job. (*sarcasm)

Jesus is more than that, friends. If that’s where you are – seeking Jesus only when you need something, you’re missing the boat. You’re missing out on experiencing the best relationship you can possibly have – with anyone! How do I know? I’ve been there!

Salvation doesn’t depend on works. However, our relationship with the Heavenly Father is going to be pretty shallow if the only time we think of Him or do something for Him is on Sunday morning – or when we’re suddenly thrust into a crisis and plead with Him to please help. Parents, can you relate to this? Does it feel like the only time your child wants you is when they need something from you?

I remember when I went out on a limb and asked Jesus to show me that He is real. I didn’t ask for a sign, per se, but I wanted to hear it from Him. Here’s what I found: When I opened up my bible and spent time reading (and not just hoping one verse would pop up for an “a-ha!” revelation), He reveals the truth. He touches your heart with words that aren’t just an opinion or happen chance. That’s where you will discover Jesus. That’s when your relationship will grow.

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” Proverbs 4:20-22

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:8-13

Does Jesus Still Perform Miracles?

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” John 9:1-7

What an amazing story, right? A miracle. I can’t imagine what the blind man experienced the moment he realized he could see! Did he wonder why Jesus healed him? Did he wonder why it took so long? Why now? Or – was he so amazed at everything he saw that he didn’t question anything.

I recently heard a sermon on the above scriptures from the book of John. I love how people have that gift to explain scripture in such a way that we can see how it provides important lessons for us today.

How about you? Are you like me and get so wrapped up in something that’s painful that you miss seeing the obvious that God is making something right?

Whatever it is that you’re going through, God is up to something.

Reflection: Is there something in your life that has changed that would glorify God? Perhaps that’s your miracle.

A New Life

In this time of uncertainty, I long for God’s presence more than ever.

What seemed so real and dependable, you know – those things that filled our time up with memories, are now suddenly gone. Vanished into thin air. So now we experience the emptiness of life and we grieve the loss of our normal. There’s no hiding the truth that this transition hurts. It’s difficult. It’s confusing. It’s convicting.

The encouraging truth is, however, we need not suffer from hopelessness – because our God lives. And He’s taking us to a new land. A new life. We just need to trust Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I can’t do this

One of the benefits of getting to watch church online is that I now have the opportunity to watch my favorite pastor, who happens to be my husband, share a message and then listen to several other ministers preach as well. For example, I’ve recently been blessed to watch a high school friend preach, and then I worshiped with another friend as he shared the gospel from his basement. Who would’ve dreamed that I would watch three different sermons on a Sunday morning?

Here’s the thing, I agree that we are the church. That phrase, in my opinion, has been used way too much. It’s like listening to the weatherman say the same thing over and over again when there’s a storm coming. WE GET IT! When you repeat the same thing 50000 times, it causes a person to stop listening and change the channel – or turn it completely off. I know It’s not the building, the pews, or the history behind the church building that makes us love God — but there are some things that do make me love worshiping with others.

Just in case you’re not following me, this is what I’m talking about…

I miss those moments when I get to hug someone and say, “Hey, how have you been? I noticed you weren’t here last Sunday.” Or, when someone walks up to you and says, “I need to talk to someone,” or maybe they let you know that they’ve been praying for you. There’s something about making eye contact — it allows you to see and feel their pain or joy.

And there’s more.

I love those moments when you hear a newborn baby’s cry echo in the Sanctuary, the crackling of candy wrappers in the pew behind you (because it reminds you they are there), soft whispers from a parent to their child, the closeness of the Holy Spirit that fills a Sanctuary while you listen to a Senior Saint recite a prayer from his heart, and when someone unexpectedly walks forward for prayer or to be baptized. One of my favorite memories was getting goosebumps when I heard Mark’s grandpa sing from his heart just a few pews away from me. No one sings like that unless they love the Lord. What a witness. All of those things draw me nearer to God.

With that being said, I am beyond thankful for all of those people in the ministry who are stepping out of their comfort zones to make sure people are still hearing the gospel. They are working tirelessly in different ways to encourage people to dig deeper in the Word and draw close to Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. Maybe all of this is a hard lesson to remind people that It’s all about saving souls. Thank you for your willingness to be servants, for stepping out of your routine and what you’re comfortable doing — all for His glory.

If you have been discouraged or simply drained, here’s something I heard last Sunday. My high school friend, Danny, talked about Paul. He said that there will be times when we will say “I can’t do this, but the important thing to remember is this – but Christ can. Christ can do it through me.” Phil. 4:13

How to move on when you’re in pain

If I were to ask you to tell me about your most painful memory, I bet you could tell me in a heartbeat. It doesn’t matter if it happened 30 years ago, I imagine you could still give me every detail.

I could sit here and share mine, but the truth is — I don’t want to. It’s not something that would be helpful to you in any way. However, it’s a heartache that I’ll have forever.

Here’s the comforting truth, Jesus knows. You don’t have to say a word, yet He knows every detail and how you have struggled with it ever since.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus endured pain like no other. One of the (many) differences is that the details of what He endured does make a difference in our lives today.

We often think about the physical pain when He was beaten and hung on the cross. That in itself is difficult to comprehend. However, we can’t forget that He also felt heartache and anguish like we do today. What did he do when He experienced it? He talked to His Father….

Luke 22:42-44. Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

We’ve all been there — in a place where we don’t want to move forward – pleading with God that He would take this (whatever it is) from us.

Jesus set the example for us. Pray, and then let it go. Pray, and move forward on the journey that He has for you. Just like that day in the garden, God will give you the strength to move on when you truly believe.

Marriage 101

It’s hard to believe I’ve been married for almost 36 years. We tied the knot when I was in the eighth grade, and it’s been uphill ever since. 😉

The truth is, I didn’t meet him until I was a freshman in college — and it has been a rollercoaster ride ever since! My life, and everything that made it seem safe and secure, was about to change. It was that year that I became a Christian. It was that year when I met my future husband. It was that year when I had the courage to peel off my mom’s apron strings and learn to make my own decisions.

I’ll never forget the day I met Mark. There’s no doubt that I was attracted to his natural leadership skills and amazing example of what a faithful follower of Christ looks like. I remember thinking, “I wonder if he even notices someone like me?” I was a new Christian and wasn’t brought up in a Christian home. He was an extrovert, and I was more like an introvert. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

In the midst of all the twists and turns that year, what I wanted in a soulmate changed, so I broke off a long relationship I had with a guy from back home. It was tough because I did love him as a friend and life sure did feel secure when I was with him, however, we both needed to look for another special someone. What I have learned throughout the years is what I needed most was a spouse who would love me, even when I mess up. And that, my friends, is exactly who I am blessed with. God knew.

I was recently looking for a devotion on my Bible App, and up popped a marriage devotion. I don’t normally do marriage devotions or even read books on how to improve your relationship because, honestly, I find them a little corny. Sometimes I have found them to have scenarios or topics I can’t relate to, so I stopped reading after a couple pages.

Well, I loved the devotion so much that I ended up purchasing the author’s book. It’s called ” A Lifelong Love” by Gary Thomas.

Listen, maybe you don’t think you need suggestions on how to have a good marriage. I get it. Let me tell you what, this book helps you look at your responsibility in marriage in a totally different way. I’ve experienced several “oh. my. goodness!” moments as I’ve read through the pages. All I can say is… I wish I had read this book a long time ago.

I admit I haven’t been the best wife throughout the years. There’s been a few times when I should’ve won Wife of the Year Award, however, I have failed in so many ways. Thankfully, I still have some time left to make my best effort to be what God wants me to be…. If you’re reading this, there’s still time for you, too.

What If…

I wasn’t going to write about the Coronavirus, mainly because I’m t i r e d of reading articles about it, listening to all the opinions that express frustration about this or that. Can you relate? I find it to be draining.

However, this is our life right now. Don’t get me wrong. I get it. I understand why people are anxious. In all of my lifetime, I’ve never seen things change so much in such a short amount of time. I work at a preschool, so guess what — my job may be over for the school year. I don’t know that yet, however, it’s a very unsettling time because of the unknown.

A friend mentioned that it’s like we are having an invisible blizzard. If you’ve ever experienced one, then you know that’s a perfect analogy. Everything is coming to a halt. We have no control. The main difference is that we still have electricity.

This is life — sometimes it can be really, really good. However, sometimes it can be the opposite. And this is why I started my blog. Over the years I’ve tried to be open and share what’s happening, and then I try my best to offer words of encouragement in case someone else out there is facing something similar. I don’t always have the right words, but I’ll give it my best shot.

I’ve been reading the One Year Bible since January 1, 2020. It’s funny how we shrug off what people went through back then because it almost seems unbelievable, and then…. here we are — in the middle (or is this just the beginning?) of something almost unbelievable. I guess the Old Testament is helpful for today!

Here’s the thing. It’s Lent. You know, that time when many believers give up something — like meat, chocolate, TV, FB, or something else that most likely isn’t that hard to live without. I shouldn’t throw everyone out there into the same basket. I do know there are some who take it seriously. I apologize if I offended anyone.

However….

What if God is allowing this to show us exactly what it means to give up something. What if He is trying to reveal to us what we truly treasure? Is it the almighty dollar? Sports? Control? Pride? What if He is allowing our life (as we know it) to be shook up in order to reveal how much we trust Him? Does our security come from trusting that He is in control — or does it come from other people, our finances, etc. When I ask myself those questions, I am humbled beyond measure.

I believe there’s a lesson in everything. I pray we will rise up to the occasion and be bold enough to ask Him to reveal what we should be learning in such a time as this. Then, I pray when this crazy virus is long gone, we will remember to look up and thank Him for such a teachable experience….and praise Him for bringing us through it.

Thank you, Lord.

 

 

Memes the Word

I find the trend to post memes on social media interesting. Maybe people do it because they don’t have anything to talk about, or perhaps some of those memes represent something that’s going on in their life. Probably both.

I feel that some of the memes that have been circulating around contain messages that most people seem to like or support, but I wonder if they really understand their meaning or why they were shared. It’s just so easy to click “like” – right?

The most common ones tell you to stop comparing yourself to others, love yourself as you are, and in a roundabout way say you will be happy if you remove yourself from toxic people.

Although I agree that it’s dangerous to compare, I believe it can motivate you to step up your game. Everyone knows we aren’t equally gifted in all areas. Where you are strong, I may be weak. Someone may be stunning in looks, but lack compassion for others. You get the picture.

Love yourself as you are? How about love yourself enough to make the effort to improve or change? I’m thankful I didn’t settle for how I was living my life several years ago. God loves me, yes. However, he sets the bar in His Word. If I’m not reading it, then I’m going to remain the same as the day I realized I needed Him as my Savior. I DIDN’T love myself back then. That’s when I realized I needed a Savior. That’s when my love for Him helped me overcome and start making changes. I’m still a work in progress. We all are.

Avoid toxic people? Is that really possible? What spot on earth can you separate yourself from them? Ha. I get it — some people are in a scary place because their life is being controlled by unhealthy people. Some friends I know have been abused and need encouragement to step away and seek help. I know it’s a serious problem in society. However, my point is — if you’re a believer, then you understand that God loves those people, too! We need to pray for them, work with them, and let them experience God’s love through us. If necessary – do those things from afar.

Last, but not least, let’s talk about those cat and dog memes. Now we’re talking! Those are all true, funny, and good for your heart.

No words

I recently went with a couple friends to visit someone I’ve known a long time who is in rehab. Although she’s dealing with a lot of physical pain, it was obvious that she was battling a broken heart. Completely shattered. You see, she lost her adult son a few months ago due to a tragic accident. I could feel the pain from across the room.

Sometimes she teared up and struggled to talk –that’s when I found myself absolutely speechless. I silently prayed that God would give me the right words to say because the words I wanted to speak didn’t seem right for the moment. However, all that I could offer was a nod that I knew her pain was as intense as it was the first day that she lost him.

We talked about many things, but we managed to come back to her son, and his wife, and their kids…..

She finally asked that one question that goes through everyone’s mind at some point in life. Why? Why, did God let this happen? I think that’s an answer she needs to learn from Him. Not from me or any other friend who tries to offer comfort. Because only God knows.

I am praying that she will allow God to lift her up and give her the strength that she needs in order to endure life. Won’t you pray for her with me?

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” Psalm 40:1-3

Child of God

I recently had the pleasure of going on a trip to Grand Cayman. What made it even more special was that I got to fly on a private jet. It was my first experience, and it was pretty wonderful.

I’m not one who likes to do things in order to feel better than everyone else, but I do like that feeling of being someone special. I guess we all do. It’s funny how ONE thing can make you feel that way.

The week was amazing. The weather was perfect. I truly appreciated being able to walk outside every day — especially since there were cold temps back where we live. The added bonus was that we got to know a lot of people from other states who were so fun to be around. What a blessing.

Yesterday, as I scrolled through my pics, I stopped at the one above. Although it wasn’t the best photo, it brought back that wonderful feeling of I can’t believe I’m on a private jet. We weren’t served peanuts and pretzels. However, we were served delicious danishes from Panera. I was like a kid at Disney when I discovered that lunch and dessert were served on our way home. I loved how the pilots took the time to talk to us. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

That feeling of being someone special or important is one of the best feelings, ever. However, I’m learning that it’s just a feeling and not necessarily the truth when it comes from an experience or from depending on someone’s compliments. It sure is hard when we sense that feeling is vanishing into thin air — especially as time passes, you grow older, or the compliments stop.

Self image is pretty tricky sometimes. I regret that I’ve depended on others for my self-worth, especially when my maker has been trying to tell me who I am all along.

Forgiveness

It amazes me how we all view forgiveness differently.

One may think that some don’t deserve it. However, when you’ve been on the receiving end — your view can change as you experience the force behind it.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Some I can view as normal teen error in judgement. Others, well — I just totally screwed up. It’s scary how satan can mask something so that it appears to be right.

A few years ago, I was told that I was forgiven by someone I love. I knew I didn’t deserve it. I guess that’s what made me realize I was truly loved.

Friends, if there’s someone who has hurt you, lied to you, or perhaps they rallied the troops to throw stones at you — remind yourself that there is someone who understands your pain.

His name is Jesus.

Jesus – There’s something about that name

After a long, difficult day where I help teach preschool, my soul was touched when I heard a group of children randomly sing “Jesus Loves Me” in our classroom. There is nothing more uplifting than hearing the voices of children lift up His name.

Oh, how He loves you and me…

What Happens When We Ignore the Pain

I received such a sad message this week that one of my son’s friends died at his workplace. I couldn’t believe it – he was only 34 years young. As of today, the cause isn’t known.

Tonight was the viewing, and as soon as I saw his mom we embraced. I sensed that she was still in shock, but it’s possible she ran out of tears for the time being.

After we talked in the entrance, my husband and I walked around — looking at all the photos they had on display. Such a short life to be captured on the boards along the way.

As we walked up to the casket, I felt his mom’s presence once again. She had walked up behind me and began to explain what she knew. She said,”He had been complaining of chest pains for a couple weeks, but he thought it was something like pleurisy.” Her explanation stopped there and that’s when my thoughts drifted off — trying to imagine what she is thinking and feeling. All I could think of is how different things would be if he had taken the time to get the pain checked out.

Such a sad story for the ones left behind. Absolutely heartbroken are his wife and 3 daughters, mom and dad, and naturally — his friends.

As we walked out to our car, I couldn’t help but think how easy it is to dismiss those warning signs that indicate something is seriously wrong — physically, mentally or spiritually. Why do we do it?

How about you? Are you ignoring some warning signs that are trying to grab your attention? Life can be incredibly complicated, but God is incredibly good.

He just might be pursuing you — sending you messages through something painful — trying to reveal that something needs to heal, change, be plucked out of your life.

“If you aren’t willing to listen to everything God has to say, you eventually won’t hear anything He has to say. If you want to hear His comforting voice, you have to listen to His convicting voice. And it’s often what we want to hear least that we need to hear most.” ~Mark Batterson

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Are you riding on a coattail?

When I was in the 6th grade, I had to give my first oral presentation. I was extremely nervous about getting in front of my peers, especially since I wasn’t prepared.

We had a choice to do a report on a book or a movie — then tell the class about the highlights. The purpose of the presentation was to make what we read or watched so appealing that most of the audience would want to read or see it. My best friend and I both thought the movie would be more fun, so that’s what we chose to do.

The thing is, I didn’t get to see the movie. I knew I would fail the class if I didn’t do the report and the presentation, so I did the unthinkable and asked my friend if she would give me all the details that she captured. All I had to do was change some of the words so that it wouldn’t be obvious.

I’ll never forget the anxiety I experienced as I waited for my name to be called to come to the front of the class. There’s something awkward about giving a speech about a movie that you’ve never experienced. My description was very straight forward and quite boring.

I remember the silence in the room as I basically repeated what my friend told me. Believe me, I didn’t experience a wonderful feeling of achievement when explaining the plot and the outcome since I didn’t see it firsthand, and I hoped with all my being that no one would ask me any questions — especially the teacher. Like, what would I say?!

All I know is that I could not wait to get back to my seat because I looked forward to having the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders. Sadly, that didn’t happen. I ended up experiencing the complete opposite — more like an overwhelming feeling of complete failure all around.

  1. I had deceived my teacher.
  2. I put my friend in a bad position.
  3. I didn’t do what I was instructed to do.
  4. I received a grade that I didn’t deserve.
  5. No one wanted to go see the movie after my speech.

It was then that I realized that it wasn’t a good thing to try to ride on the coattails of someone else in order to be successful.

The same with my faith. I could repeat what others have taught me throughout the years; however, there wouldn’t be any passion behind my words if I haven’t read them and experienced them myself.

How about you? Do you know the way to Heaven, or are you simply hoping to ascend on the coattails of others?

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

When You Hear Your Name

“And let us not get tired of doing what is right for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” Galatians 6:9

A preschool student was caught making a bad choice in the classroom. The thing is — this wasn’t the first time. Same mistake. Same reaction. When she heard her teacher say her name, she ran from the teacher. No matter what the teacher said as she tried her best to get her student’s attention, the more the little girl became upset and perhaps embarrassed. She finally ducked underneath a desk with hopes that she wouldn’t be seen. What she hasn’t learned yet is that running away and hiding doesn’t make something go away; it was only delaying the inevitable.

As silly or childish as that may seem to an adult, we have to ask — are we any different? It’s pretty humbling when we hear our Father’s voice call out our name as He reveals our sin. Although He may not yell it out from across the room, it’s pretty clear when He’s trying to get our attention through scripture, a sermon, or through a life experience.

Listen, no one likes to get caught doing something wrong. However, the sooner we stop running or hiding from God — from the truth — the sooner we are able to finally face the truth that we are sinning and that we need to change.

If you’re feeling as though God is out there — like….far away, perhaps it’s because you are the one who is running away. If you have something in your life that would make you cringe if it was revealed to others (like addiction, jealousy, lying, or stealing) then you need to just stop now…. and listen to the voice of truth. Why? Because He loves you and He knows what’s best for your life. Trust Him. 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams

Have you ever had a dream that something would happen? Like, you almost become obsessed with it and can’t stop thinking about it? I’ve had several in my lifetime, and it’s pretty amazing when that dream comes true.

I love to take pictures. Most of them are of nature or landscape type photos. They’re nothing really special and I certainly don’t receive a million likes for anything I’ve shared (ha), but I truly enjoy it. It does something in my heart that I can’t explain.

I’ve had this desire to capture different moments. The first is where it looks like someone is holding the moon in the palm of their hand, or where someone is hanging on the edge of a crescent shaped moon. That would be epic.

I guess missed opportunities sometimes spark something inside, too. I once saw a bright red Cardinal sitting on a snow-covered branch, and as soon as I took a step closer to snap a pic, he flew away. There’s no doubt that the picture would’ve been frame worthy, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Naturally, that is on my list.

The last one that I’ve always hoped for is capturing the sky with a red, white, and blue sunset. Unless you have photoshop, it’s not something that you make happen. So you look…and you wait.

The other night, I was walking outside when I noticed the beautiful sunset that was developing. I started taking pictures with my IPhone. It wasn’t until I looked at the photos later on that I realized that one of my dreams had finally come true. (Picture above) BAM!

Dreams are fun. I’m really not sure what drives us to dream of wanting something, but I do know they give you something to look forward to. Day after day.

Here’s the thing…. When we become so focused on the outcome of our dreams rather than what is eternal, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and maybe heartache. Oh, it’s heavenly when something good happens — like getting that picture that you’ve always hoped for, but the thrill quickly vanishes. However, when we put all of our hope in those things that only God can provide — we will experience true joy. Everlasting.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:18

Embracing Love

If you’re like me, sometimes you read something that truly resonates with your spirit and you Immediately underline it or highlight it. You might even write a little note next to it with the date. If it’s on the internet, you might tweet it or post it on Facebook.

When I was reading my devotions, I read this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

~Proverbs 4:23-27

I’ve read those words a million times, and I’ve never realized their significance until now. Isn’t it funny how life changes your perspective? Words I once read over and over now pops off the page and pierces my heart. That’s exactly why I’m sharing it here. Maybe you need the reminder, too.

I’m also reading this book titled Sensible Shoes, by Sharon Garlough Brown. Although I’m having the hardest time getting through it, (I’ve been trying to read it for a year!) I have highlighted several comments that were that good and I wanted to remember them. Today I read this…

“What if God is trying to pour out his love for you through me?”

The story is too complicated to explain and doesn’t really matter here but makes me think. Do you have that someone in your life that you’re rejecting because you’re just not ready for love? Or, perhaps you are losing someone due to circumstances you can’t control. Maybe God was using that person to pour HIS love into your life — just for a period of time. Whatever the case may be, we should be thankful that we got to experience it at all.

The old saying “love hurts” is true, but it’s worth it.

New Beginnings

And so a new school year has begun!


I don’t know about you but when I was growing up, I always looked forward to this time of year.  I couldn’t wait to get new school supplies and maybe a few new clothes. As I got older, I looked forward to meeting new classmates and new teachers. Along with the anticipation, however, I was anxious about the unknown and afraid of experiencing what seemed like unrealistic expectations.

Middle school…. How do you explain the middle school years? If you’ve been through it, you know these years can be the best and most challenging of all.  That’s when you’re trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in.  I often pray specifically for these teachers because they play such an important role in helping their students learn how to handle all kinds of changes.  

Everyone has their favorite years.  For me, it was a relief to start high school. It was my freshman year when I realized I needed to buckle down and focus more on my education. There’s nothing like a fresh, clean start.

When I started college, my life changed in many ways.  That’s the year I realized I needed to focus on what God desired rather than striving to be loved by my peers. The truth that Jesus loved me and had a purpose for me ricocheted in my spirit and changed everything. I pray you understand that truth applies to you, too. 

Since that time,  I’ve learned that life can give us some of the hardest lessons and tests.  Sometimes we ace them, sometimes we fail. What we need to remember, though, is that God gives us the wisdom, strength, and courage we need if we’ll just take the time to read His Word. Unlike certain subjects in school that seem worthless because we don’t see how we’ll possibly use them later in life, His Word is filled with words of wisdom that we need for eternity.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

Pick Me

Queen Anne’s Lace

I have always loved Queen Anne’s Lace and I’ve often wondered how something so beautiful could possibly be a weed. If you’re not familiar with it, you can find it growing along a country road or next to a field. Be sure to look for it. Its unique design reminds me of a snowflake.

Recently, curiosity got the best of me so I googled this plant to see what I could find out. One fact that didn’t come as a surprise was that it reproduces from seed and each one can produce thousands of seeds. Needless to say, it is invasive. No doubt that’s why most people don’t want it around. What surprised me, though, is that it’s considered to be a weed in some locations and in some areas it’s not. Apparently it depends on who you ask.

The story that really struck me, however, was this one. A lady stopped at a flower sale and purchased a plastic cup that contained a plant. Even though she wasn’t sure what kind of plant she was purchasing, she didn’t mind because she loved it!

Not long after got home and planted it, a friend of hers asked if she realized she had purchased a weed. As you’ve probably guessed, she had purchased a cup filled with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Her story reminds me of Jesus and how He paid the price for us . Even though He knew we were far from perfect and that our bad choices could multiply like a thousand seeds blowing along the country side, He still picked us so that we could have life — eternity with Him.

“I’ll never quit telling the story of your love.” Psalm 89:2

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

What’s holding you back?

You guys. If you read my previous thoughts about going to the Dominican, I hope you will read this one!

I’m back home now, and oh my….. I’m so thankful I didn’t let fear stop me from going on this mission trip. Every single bad thing I thought might happen….didn’t. What I thought would be the highlight….. wasn’t. What I was unsure of became the best part. Life is like that, isn’t it? We just never know what the future holds. I’m learning that’s exactly why we need to stand firm in our faith.

I was offered an opportunity to help teach children English and teach them about God — mainly by sharing His love through my actions. The day before I went out to one of the villages for VBS, I shared part of my testimony with a group of women. They encouraged me to share it during VBS, but I just couldn’t bring myself to share it. I’m still struggling with the fact that I missed that opportunity. It’s like having a sour stomach — for days. I pray I’ll be able to share it one day.

The message on her shirt says it all.

Here’s what I shared with my group. Maybe it will help someone who’s reading this now….

Side Note: The reason I shared this portion of my testimony was because of this question that came up: When did you realize you were a sinner? It brought up a memory from when I was younger and a realization that I discovered I was a sinner before I was a teenager, but I didn’t know what I needed to do about it until much later.

This is what I shared:

When I was in elementary school, a friend and I argued over a boy we both liked. I remember telling her that he was going to marry me. Her reply has stuck with me all these years. She said, “He will never like you because you don’t go to church.” I remember how sad I felt because it was true. You can’t argue with the truth. My family didn’t go to church. In addition to that truth, I thought God probably didn’t love me for the same reason.

For years I felt like I wasn’t good enough, my life was hopeless and that God didn’t even like me. Thankfully, one day someone finally explained that we are all sinners (even the ones who go to church) and although worshiping with other believers is important, it wasn’t something that God checked off a list to determine if He should love us. He loved us first and our “works” aren’t meant to be a way to get to Heaven but should be a heartfelt response to our love for Him.

The truth is, He died on the cross for all of us – not a select few. He loved us from the beginning, and He will continue to be there for us – waiting for us to come to Him – to come home. It’s so hard to comprehend this unconditional love when we constantly face judgement and rejection from others. Can you relate?

However, there’s no comparison to God’s love. No matter how difficult it is, we can’t take our experience with relationships here and compare them to our relationship with Christ. He knows us better than anyone, and He still loves us. Thank you, God.

If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you can do it right now. You don’t have to go to church to make this happen, but you can. The truth is –God is right where you are. Tell Him you love Him. Tell Him you know you’re a sinner and you’re seeking forgiveness — then let Him come into your life and change it.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:6-8

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

What are you waiting on?

Where Does Your Peace Come From?

Several years ago, we went on our first mission trip. The place was Costa Rica. It was a life-changing experience; however, I remember telling my husband during that week that I wasn’t cut out for this. I remember being so relieved when we got home. I had learned to appreciate what I took for granted. I saw families experience happiness even though they basically had nothing. I experienced the love of Jesus in that place. No question. The thing was, I just didn’t think I could do it again — ever.

But here I am, packing for a trip to the Dominican. We are going with a different group, but they have the same purpose — to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I admit I’m a little nervous. There have been 9 reported American deaths in the D.R. A part of me wants to cancel, but a part wants me to stick with it. So, here we are…

I recently sat with a senior saint from our church. After she walked me around her back yard, showing me her beautiful flowers, she started talking about her family.

She said they are “crazy fun” to be around. She paused, then she mentioned that one of her daughters died several years ago. She was one of the healthiest kids — always eating right and exercising. Unfortunately, she found out she had cancer and died a few months later.

This senior saint looked up at me and asked, “Do you believe that God determines how many days we will live on this earth?” She then added, “I do, and that’s what gives me peace about my daughter.”

It gives her peace knowing that God is in control.

What a blessing her visit was. She has no clue how much I needed to hear those words, but God…..

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand–when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:16-18

Let them Know

A thankful heart for his hero. Whoever your hero is — first responders, military, or a policeman — be sure to let them know that you are thankful for their service.

Control

I’ve been thinking about all the hot topics in our country. Know what I think? I think it’s all about control. No one wants to lose it. No one wants someone else telling them how to live their life and that they can’t do this, buy this, or live this way. Naturally, morals and faith come into the picture when we take a stand, but what screams out is control.

Just read the following story and see what your conclusion is…

My dad died in 2004. It was difficult for many reasons. My adult, mentally challenged brother still lived with him prior to this and we needed to figure out where he was going to live. None of that was discussed, ever. My dad had dementia; therefore, it was impossible to find out what he wanted for my brother.

Thankfully, after doing a lot of research and making a lot of calls, we were able to get my brother in a program that provided services for adults with special needs. It was very beneficial for his well-being. Having a social worker take care of his bills was the best thing for him. She gave him an allowance each week so that he wouldn’t spend all of his money at one time. THIS way, I knew all his bills would be paid — and paid on time. THIS way, I could be his sister and not someone who became his caretaker. Because of his strong personality, this was for the best for both of us.

Well, he didn’t like the fact that someone else had control of his money — even though it was the best thing for him. He didn’t like being told “no” when he asked for more, so he signed himself out of the program.

Needless to say, that was the worst decision he could’ve possibly made. In his eyes, however, life was good again because he had the freedom to make his own decisions about what happened with his money. He could take off for Florida if he chose to do so. He could go out to eat every day if he wanted. The bad thing was, he quickly ran out of money. His bills piled up and his electricity was almost shut off several times. The car he purchased on his own was a lemon and he had to have it towed. It couldn’t be repaired so he returned it to the small business dealership where he purchased it. Oh, and he put a post-it note on the windshield with this message: “I don’t want this car anymore. It’s a lemon.” He has told so many lies over the years — I’m not even sure what the truth is anymore.

{Side note: If you’re wondering why I, his sister, didn’t become his payee and take care of his bills, I did. I tried. However, he called the sheriff’s department in the county I lived in to report that I was “keeping his money from him.” This, of course, wasn’t true. He was willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted}

My brother wanted complete control over his life. Well, he has that now– but it has only created one problem after another. Because of his situations, I have received call after call — wanting me to fix it – NOW! I could write a book on that!

You might be thinking…but this case is unique because he’s mentally challenged. Is it? Isn’t it a prime example of how many others are fighting for their right to having control over their life?

Sometimes other people do know what’s best for you — even when what’s best isn’t convenient for you or exactly the way you want it.

Just my thoughts…

Fill My Cup, Lord

When you hear the word ministry, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If you’re a minister, on staff at a church or someone who is committed to serving, I hope you think of love.

Working with people is hard. There’s so many different expectations; most importantly — there are many needs.

Friends, there are people dying who have never experienced the love of Christ because no one cared enough to take the time to show them. (Hopefully that someone didn’t run out of time because they had to rush off to a meeting!)

If you are in the ministry, I pray you remember who you are serving. This will help you to know when it’s OK to say ‘no’. On the flip-side, keeping this in mind will also help you know when you should drop your to-do list and take the time to show the love of Christ.

The truth is, serving others shouldn’t rob the joy of serving our Creator, and our busy life shouldn’t get in the way of leading someone to Christ.

If you’re getting t i r e d or maybe wondering if what you’re doing even makes a difference — go to Jesus now and let Him fill your cup with His power, wisdom, and strength.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.d 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.e 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,f baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,g 20 and teachingh them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youi always, to the very end of the age.”j
Matthew 28:16-20 “

A Father’s Love

BABY
My dad…

Father’s Day is a special day for many, yet it’s a difficult day for some. If you’ve experienced heartache in some way such as the loss of your father, you may be finding this day difficult to celebrate or observe.

My father passed away in 2002, and every year since then I’ve realized how much I took him for granted. I was blessed to have the dad I did. He wasn’t perfect, but he was the perfect dad for me.

One thing that I treasure about him was his presence. Our family went through some very difficult times, but he remained faithful and committed.

When I was in the 5th grade, I was going through a difficult time and didn’t want to go to school. There were several mornings when I waited inside for the bus  instead of standing with my friends down the way. I would peek through the living room curtains so that I could watch my dad back out of the driveway and I watched  his car go down the street until it was out of my sight.  Tears would often sting my eyes.

There was something about my dad’s presence that gave me comfort and it was hard for me to watch him leave.

If your heart is hurting today because circumstances prevent you from experiencing   your dad’s presence, I hope this truth will comfort you today.

You have a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you can imagine.  In the book of John it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “ He loves you that much.

I recently read something written by author Andrea Lucado and I found it fitting to share here. She said, “When  you begin to view God as your Father, you start to see Him as not only the creator of the universe, but the creator of you. He intimately knows you (Psalm 139). He did not create us and walk away. He created us, sent His son to die for us and left the Holy Spirit to guide us.”

Our Heavenly Father WANTS to have a relationship with you. He WANTS to be with you. He wants to encourage you when you need it.  He wants to give you that much needed wisdom, direction, and comfort. Your Heavenly Father will give you everything you need if you’ll just believe in Him — and trust Him.

Let’s remember to embrace our Heavenly Father’s love  today.

Happy Father’s Day.

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Home, Sweet Home

We are back in Indiana – the state we’ve lived in since we were born — with the exception of the last 3 years when we lived in Florida. I don’t even know where to begin….

I cannot believe how much life has changed for us. We’ve been “home” for 5 weeks, however, last night it dawned on me how God has answered so many of my prayers. I’ve been so happy since we’ve been back — busy putting things away and getting adjusted to being a pastor’s wife again and getting to know new people, and somehow I missed it! Totally missed the fact that God was providing our needs.

Life in Florida was like living on a deserted island for me, but I’m thankful how it brought me closer to God. There were days when I would be so down and I wondered if I would ever feel normal again.

One morning I came to the conclusion that I needed to get into a routine of thanking God for specific things to help bring me out of the valley. I know we should do that anyway because He deserves the praise, but this was important for me to do as a reminder to be thankful instead of pitiful or resentful.

So, every morning, before my feet touched the floor, I would look out our bedroom window and thank Him for another day. Simple as that. I would remind myself that there were people who were praying to live another day, so I should stop taking life for granted.

I felt so empty. I tried, but couldn’t find my purpose. Did you know that when you don’t feel like you have one, you feel worthless? It’s true. And, it’s a horrible place to be. If you’re in a similar place, please — don’t give up. When God provides a way out of that valley, you won’t forget it — you never forget. Pray believing, because He hears your prayers. At the right time — His timing, life will change. Maybe in baby steps, but it will improve.

A part of me wishes I understood why God allowed us to move in the first place, but then I am reminded that true faith requires trusting His plan, surrendering our plan, and following Him.


Still Climbing…

I’ve read where people have climbed a mountain alone. I can’t begin to imagine how scary that would be. If you need help, where do you turn? Is it really that big of a deal to tackle a mountain alone?

Just like life – we need people. We need God.

The mountain I’ve been climbing has become a little bit easier – not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the wisdom I recently received from a message at church.

God works that way, you know. Sometimes when you least expect it, you hear a message that makes you realize that God is listening. He knows the struggle, and He’s with us – every step we take. 

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

I’m so thankful for that reminder. Perhaps you needed it, too.

How to Climb a Mountain

I started 2019 with a bang! No, I didn’t go mountain climbing. I had to get a filling and a new crown. I mean, it just doesn’t get more exciting than that.

Last year wasn’t a fun year for me. I had to go to the ER TWO times. I had to go to TWO specialists – a Cardiologist and a Hematologist. Found out my platelet count was double and my cholesterol was too high. Had to have blood drawn TWO many times. Although I don’t have anything life-threatening, it all put me on the struggle bus. Have you taken a ride on it? It’s not exactly a fun ride.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I have felt a nudge after seeing what Toby Mac had to say about sharing our struggles…

So, here I am – telling you about my journey. Here’s where things start to change.

I was stopped in the turn lane the other day when I heard loud music coming from the car that was stopped next to me.

A young gal was singing every word to the song with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wondered if she was happy because she was on her way to see a friend or maybe because it was Friday. Who knows. All I know is that I want to feel that happy again – at least for five minutes.

The weight of the world can certainly keep you from enjoying life, can’t it? Sometimes you don’t even realize that a weight needs to be lifted until you see a young girl singing a song….

Relationships

Once again, I heard a story about a family that doesn’t talk to one another any more. They don’t get together for birthdays, holidays, or any other day. Sisters, brothers, and parents live near one another, but apparently have chosen not to speak. 

Whether the door was closed on you, or you severed the ties with someone, you could add so much more insight to this story. Both sides would probably point their finger at the other person, but I’m pretty sure both sides would agree that it’s not supposed to be this way. 

When my husband and I were married, my mother didn’t come to the wedding. She shut me out of her life weeks before. I was still living at home before my wedding, and the morning that my dad and I were headed for the church – my mom stayed in her room with the door closed.

Silence speaks louder than words.

I wasn’t surprised, but it still hurt like crazy. I made the choice on my wedding day that I wasn’t going to let her absence ruin my day or my life. Thirty four years later, I can honestly say that it didn’t.

Ohhhhhh, there were times over the next few years when I felt the hurt. Like all those times I attended a wedding after mine and watched the mother of the bride hug her daughter and shed tears of happiness for her daughter, or when I went to someone’s baby shower and caught a glimpse of what a mother/daughter relationship should be like. Yes, I felt the sting.

Relationships are important. They’re never perfect, but the good and the bad helps us become a better person if we allow it.

There’s another type of relationship that I want to talk about and how you handle it is of eternal value. It’s with Jesus. 

You do know that He loves you, right? Have you talked to Him – ever? I don’t mean through some memorized prayer or that one time you yelled “Oh, God! Help!” I’m talking about sitting down wherever you are and spending time talking to Him like you would a best friend – spilling your guts. Reading His word and getting to know Him. And most importantly, listening.

He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. – Psalm 86:5

Or is He one of your loved ones that you’re shutting out? 

This Christmas

I recently read a friend’s post that explained why he celebrated Christmas. I love his heart.

I also love seeing and hearing about Christmas programs, family traditions, kids sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time, and how Elf on the Shelf is getting into trouble. So much fun.

I admit – I can’t wait to see my kids and my granddaughter open their gifts. The wonder of it all can make you feel like your world is overflowing with love.

The downside to this season has to be the disappointment I feel when I think about those loved ones that won’t be here. I don’t know about you, but I catch myself comparing my life, my family, my Christmas — with others.

When I read the quote below by Tony Nolan, it reminded me how much I tend to depend on the above things rather than what happened long ago to truly experience what Christmas is all about. What Jesus did fills my heart with such amazing love and joy – both that will last way beyond Christmas Day. This priceless gift was meant for you, too – if you’ll let it in.

No chance of me reaching heaven so divinity came into my hell. It was love that made Jesus do it and that’s the Christmas story I tell.” Tony Nolan

Praying your heart is filled with HIS love today. Forever. Merry Christmas. ❤️

Heaven

sunrise

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:4

Endurance

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Pain and suffering. What do those words mean to you? Are you living in fear because of something painful you are experiencing? If not, perhaps someone who’s close to you comes to mind.

En-dur-ance – “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” ~Dictionary via Google

We recently talked about endurance in a Bible study, and one of the ladies opened up about her pain – emotional and physical pain that just won’t stop. Not long ago, she lost several people who were close to her in a short amount of time. In addition to grieving, she learned that she had a painful disease – one without a cure.

As she fought back her tears, what I read between the lines is that what bothered her most was that she didn’t see an end in sight – her pain will last the rest of her earthly life.

A memory came to mind when I listened to my friend talk about her experience. About 29 years ago, we were getting closer to our 3rd child’s due date. My first two came quickly and a few days early, so I was expecting this one to do the same. Perhaps faster!

To my surprise, labor ended up being totally different the third time around. Oh, he was definitely early – 3 and 1/2 weeks early. However, he definitely wasn’t in a hurry to be born. After walking the halls in the hospital, hoping that would help speed things up, I remember thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore ! – not for this length of time’.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted that baby more than anything, but I didn’t think I had the strength to cope with the pain and the uncertainty. When I finally began having hard labor, I requested an epidural because I was exhausted. Unfortunately, I was told that I couldn’t have one. I don’t recall exactly why, but I think it had something to do with the location of the baby – or something like that. I just wanted to be numb.

When our son finally made his way into this world, we discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. Something unexpected, and something that explained why things happened the way they did and maybe why he came early. The pain was worth getting to hold our baby boy.

If you’re struggling with pain – any kind of pain, and don’t see how you can continue because you feel overwhelmed or weak, please know that God will step in and give you what you need so that you can face another day, another hour, another minute. Rather than looking for something to numb your pain, reach out to the Great Physician. He’s just waiting for you to call on His name and trust Him. Step aside, and let Him in.

But Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you gripped with fear? Where is your faith?” Then he stood up and rebuked the storm and said, “Be still!” And instantly it became perfectly calm. The disciples were astonished by this miracle and said to one another, “Who is this Man? Even the wind and waves obey his Word.” Matthew 8:26-27