In the Waves with Matching Socks

In the Waves with Matching Socks

Picture me standing on my rooftop (which I’d never really do because heights are scary!) screaming at the top of lungs, tears rolling down my face, tearing at my clothes, kicking up roof tiles, madder than an old wet hen on a snowy winter’s day. That would’ve been me on one particular gloomy day in January 2014 … if I’d had the nerve to climb on my roof. Well, and tear at my clothes that I spent good money on and kick up roof tiles that I don’t have the money to replace! No, I’d never really do this. But I was pretty stinking mad that day.

I’d love for all the little stories that make up the testimony of my life to involve butterflies and rainbows and cuteness and all things lovely, true and pure but I live in the real world just like you do. So ,many times, the stories of my life are going to involve the opposite of the things listed above!

Finding beauty in sticky situations. It can be tricky, but I believe that through every rough spot we face in life, God provides us with something beautiful in the end…..

In spite of the ick.

In spite of the trial.

Beauty from ashes.

Always…because He is faithful.

The end of 2013 was one icky mess after another. I got the flu… or maybe it’s evil twin… on Thanksgiving Day. And it liked spending time with me so much that it hung around for weeks. Like until just days before Christmas. I can’t remember the last time a seemingly “simple” illness hung around with such tenacity. I had a horrible cough for weeks and completely lost my voice for the good part of a month. I still couldn’t sing a note by Christmas Eve…which was quite tortuous for this girl who loves nothing better than to “spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear!” I’m still not sure why I chose to go to the mostly song-filled worship service on Christmas Eve since all I could do was my best Milli Vanilli impression . Remember them? Then 10 days before Christmas, while I’m STILL trying to recoup from the flu, I get a call from my son’s school that they’ve called an ambulance to transport him to the hospital of our choice. He’s severely broken his arm. They weren’t kidding. I’d post a picture of Noah’s arm for your viewing pleasure but you’d probably never come back and read this silly old blog again. It was hideous! He had surgery and spent 3 nights in the hospital. Shortly after this, we get a call that my husband’s dad had taken a fall and broke many ribs and punctured his lung. He was in the hospital awaiting surgery….one he might not recover from. Sadly, he didn’t. Two days after Christmas my father in law was finally breathing freely in the presence of Jesus.

This was just December. I won’t bore you with tales of job losses, extremely reduced income and other stresses that plagued us January through November!

Oh sweet 2014 please be kinder………

…sigh…

But the trials of 2013 weren’t quite over. January had a rough start with flooding in our house. Twice we tromped through little unwanted rivers in the back of our house caused by frozen, busted pipes.

And so we’re back to the opening rooftop story here. On that day, I found myself standing in my sons bedroom ankle deep in water for the second time in a month but this time I was in matching socks. Yes, I said matching! My day had started so well because we all know that matching socks is a victory. Especially when your dryer loves nothing more than to always eat one sock from each pair you own!! Now my beautiful matching socks were soaked in yucky flood water.

I closed my eyes , took a deep breath and made the calls I knew were next after a flood. Then I was mad again. Still in disbelief…..I’m pretty sure I went to bed that night wondering what in the world was going on. Why were we continuously being plagued with one challenge after another?

In my mind, I deserved a big huge pity party. Who wouldn’t after going through all we’d been through? I’d invite friends over to cry with me. We’d have cold pizza and hot diet coke. It would be a blast.

No sooner had I created the guest list for my pity party than I got a little nudge from God. A nudge to remind me to open my pity filled eyes and really see what was going on. Nothing had really dramatically changed from Flood One . Flood Two happened on concrete floors, a stripped down bathroom. The floor was mostly empty of all the clothes, books, and computers that were ruined the first time. We had a roof over our heads. We had heat, clothes on our backs, food in the pantry. And the livable portion of our house was still livable.

Just like that I was reminded of a few things…

  • Blessings abound , even in the midst of turmoil. The faster I start looking for the blessings, the more quickly I’ll find them. The quicker I remember how greatly blessed I am…well, wet matching socks just seem so insignificant.
  • The faster I turn to God with my troubles, the faster I feel better. I like to feel better. Who doesn’t?? Why do we hang on to anger, fear, uncertainty, etc. etc. sooooo long?
  • I don’t have it near as bad as I think I do. Somebody slept in the cold last night. Somebody is begging for food. Somebody doesn’t have a penny to his name and only has what he can carry around in a bag on his back. Why is it so easy for me to fall into a pit of pity for myself when I have it better than a good majority of the world……misplaced water, concrete floors, ripped out walls, kids sleeping on the couch or not?

And those things were my BEAUTY…..in spite of it all.

As I stood in my son’s room on a patch of dry ground, I looked into the bathroom where water was still dripping out of the pipe into the house. There were already fans blowing attempting to dry things up as quickly as possible but the breeze from the fan was having a rippling effect on the standing water on the floor. There were waves on my bathroom floor. As I think back on that, a song came to mind. So I’ll close with the lyrics to that song and pray you too can allow your soul to rest in the embrace of the One who puts up with every pity party we indulge ourselves in and still calls us His own.


“So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine”
……

”Oceans” by Hillsong United (chorus)



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Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No

Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No

It all started when I was a 3rd grade kid. I loved making a Valentine box to sit on my 3rd grade school desk. Paper hearts…glitter…glue. All things pretty and sparkly.  But that’s where the fun ended. I rarely ever got as many Valentines as everyone else did.  Back in the day, we weren’t required to give everyone in the class a cute little card covered in hearts and puppy dog tails. Nope. We just gave cards to whoever we wanted to declare our undying love and friendship for. My box was light.  But to not totally dis that class full of fellow 8 year olds, they may not have even known I was in their class.  I was so shy…I rarely spoke to anyone.

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Then there were all those horrific teenage Valentine’s Days.   You know the ones.    You really like him, but he really likes her.  And you’re not her. Notes are passed and you hold your breath hoping and praying he checks “Yes”!   In all my teen years, I remember getting a Valentine from a boy exactly once.   He got me a cute little stuffed bear I named “Buff”.   This boy liked me because I looked good in a bathing suit.     Ugh!

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Then there are the adult Valentine’s Days.  “Singles Awareness Days” are brutal.   All your friends have dates and you’re home alone with  a sappy movie and a gallon of Moose Tracks, thoughts of the perfect man running through your pretty head. Even after we find Mr. Right and live out our days happily ever after with him, we often become painfully aware of Mr. Right’s imperfections…(and just to be fair, he very likely becomes all too aware of our imperfections as well.)  

I wonder if we are just hard-wired to always be seeking the perfect one  so that we’ll ALWAYS be seeking that Perfect One? Hmmmm…..

You know the one?    He’s truly perfect in every way.    And I don’t mean to brag, but y’all, I’ve found him and he’s taken a bit of the “humbug” out of my hard Valentine heart.   He’s mine and I am his.    At first glance, you may not think he’s all that…but let me assure you, he is truly beautiful!

He loves me just as I am…..flaws and all.    In fact, he proclaimed his love for me well before I did the same.   He pursued me like crazy and never gave up on me.  His love is relentless and pure.  He says he’ll NEVER give up on me…and I believe him.

And now that he has me, he hasn’t marked me off his list of “claimed pursuits”, pushing me aside for the next best thing. He will faithfully love me forever.    In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand how deeply he loves me. He tells me all the time that nothing can ever separate us.   Nothing I do will ever make him  love me less.   He doesn’t care if I’m grumpy or hormonal or “look fat in that dress”.     He just loves me.

He always takes care of me…always.   He does this because I love him…but mostly because he loves me so much.    He’s the perfect provider and he never has to guess what I need.  He just knows.   He’s my “knight in shining armor”, keeping me safe and protected.    I feel so safe with him.

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If He had been in my 3rd grade class, He would’ve stuffed the little box on my desk full of little heart shaped cards with Snoopy on them.   The “Yes” box would’ve been checked .

Quite simply, He’s the perfect Man.   Nobody will ever come close to His perfection.  He’s the best “Valentine” I’ve ever had or ever will have……and I don’t mind sharing Him one bit!

The Craziness of Time

The Craziness of Time

I had a dream last night that we were all at my oldest daughter’s house for Christmas. Except it was one of those strange Christmases where she was obviously moving. There were moving boxes strewn all over the house among the Santa gifts. I, being the helpful mom I am, decided to help her unpack some things. Until one item I found in a box totally unglued me. It was a gently used set of children’s water colors with her sisters 1st grade handwritten name across the back. I just lost it right there in her living room where it looked like Christmas and the Moving Fairy had met up and exploded. Everyone thought I had stuck my hand in a box of pit vipers or something. Because seriously? Why would mom be practically hysterical over children’s water colors?

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I am not a dream interpreter. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the meaning of this dream. Seems my dream world and my real life feelings collided in my brain for the few minutes it took for my sleep self to create this scene.

I had my first baby in 1986. And our nest did not empty until the summer of 2017 when the last of our 5 kids graduated high school and moved out. The math is easy here. I spent 31 YEARS with kids under my roof. Some of you may be wanting to ask how big the party was on that day we finally graduated from full time parenting to empty nesting. But the truth is this. In spite of the fact there were times when the kids were young that we’d go to bed exhausted, chanting “2017! 2017!” over and over, that August day in 2017 felt like it totally sprung up on us. My hubby and I almost felt blind sided by it.

Why? Because the time passed so quickly our hearts couldn’t catch up. The reality was our children were raised and were starting adulthood while our hearts were screaming that we needed to load them all up in the minivan and get them to practice on time! The reality was all the bedrooms were now empty while our hearts were still telling our kids it was time to come to dinner! Don’t even get me started on how hard it is to cook for two when I’ve cooked for 7 for so long!! Two people do NOT need an entire large box of spaghetti!! Thank you Hello Fresh for easing us into THAT!!

But I digress!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

These are words I started singing long before I knew they were actually words of Scripture. (I’ll post the song at the end. Take a look at Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 as you listen!) Once I realized they were actually words from THE Word, I began to see them as truth. And now I can hang on to them and begin my new song. Because I can either embrace the passing of time and enjoy each new season for all it is or I can crumble.

So I sing….

There IS a time and a season for everything. I may be well past any ability to birth babies, but new things can still be birthed in me! As each new thing comes my way , I will grasp it with eager hands and let the glories of the past be sweet memories.

As I am “planted” in new places that don’t involve motherhood, I will keep my eyes open and my ears tuned to what God has for me in each new “planting”.

My heart will heal from the ache of time that zoomed by way too quickly.

I will build up my children as they race into adulthood, spreading their wings to fly. And I’ll build myself up by filling my head with God’s truths and smashing the enemies lie that I was only meant for one thing.

I have mourned the “passing of childhood” and will now find JOY in all the things. Because , quite simply, there is so much to find joy in!

I will learn to dance with wild abandon to this new song!

I will embrace the amazing things God has placed before me. And, quite literally, I will always be thankful that the embraces I get from my adult kids are so much more REAL than the embraces of their teenage selves!

I will keep the memories of the last 31 years treasured in my heart as I create new, beautiful memories with my children and grandchildren.

I will speak words of affirmation to these amazing people God gave me when they need to hear them most. And I will keep my own opinions to myself when they benefit no one but me! Because peace in the family is so much better than a “war of words”!

My heart is slowly but surely catching up with our new reality. And it’s good. Really good! I don’t know what new season you’re facing right now but I know that with each bit of new, God has something marvelous! I hope you’ll embrace it!

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!”…Psalms 98:1


Shattered

Shattered

We planned this move as a means to start over. Being 1000 miles away from all we knew was going to be our fresh start. The hurts from the past would be set aside and forgiven and we would move on…together. As I made the final arrangements to move myself and our two young children to meet him and start a new home and life together , I got the call. He wasn’t ready to make our marriage work and he would be coming home to finalize our divorce.

I was shattered.

It came as a text. They wouldn’t be needing my services any longer. As nice and cordial as the message was, it still stung. But when I got a similar message from another parent just a few days later, I was left empty. Even though children moving on is the “nature of the beast” of my business , I wasn’t expecting this to all hit at once and it hurt. To top things off, not only did I lose every penny of my income that week, so did my husband. How long could we keep food on our table and a roof over our heads with the little bit of savings we had? I knew it wouldn’t last long.

I was shattered.

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As I finished up Chapter 2 of “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way”, I was challenged to think about times in my life that felt shattered to the point of dust. “Shattered to dust”…those times that felt like an abrupt, scary, disappointing end to the comforts I once felt. The times that felt like I could never pick up the pieces and move on. Because, well, once something is shattered to the point of dust, it’s a smidge impossible to glue those teeny, tiny fragments back together and make anything good.

Unless, of course, you’re God!

In the book, Lysa brought to our attention how magnificent God is with dust. Give God a handful of dust and He can create a living, breathing human being. I mean, come on. Creating a person with such ease should give us great comfort when we hand Him the dust created from our obliterated circumstances!

But I know how much easier it feels in the moment to just scream at God and come short of demanding that He fix things just the way we think would be best. I’ve been there, done that….

LORD! Make him love me again! Get him on a one way plane back home where he’ll stay and we’ll live happily ever after with our two kids and one dog. He’ll be faithful to me forever and I’ll never look like the black sheep of the family because I was the only one with a failed marriage! God, only You can do this, so do it now!

But God had other plans for my dust!

LORD! WHY?!? You know we can’t live without an income. I can’t even believe You made this happen to us. Why would you give me a calling in my life and rip it away with nothing to fall back on?? I have no clue what to do next! So God , You better lead me very clearly to the next step because I feel blinded here!!!!

But God had plans for my dust!

Did you ever watch David Letterman’s late night talk show? He would often have a segment he called ” Stupid Human Tricks” where people would do little “tricks” they taught themselves. Silly little old idiosyncratic crazy things they could probably make money showing off in bars! When we try to tell God what to do , or worse yet, jump ahead of him and start doing these things all on our own, I imagine He looks down on us from heaven , shakes His head and gets a little giggle at our silly “stupid human tricks”! Because try as we may, we can never ever create anything as fabulous out of the dust of our cruddy circumstances as God can. But we have to hand our crud over to Him and let Him do His thing!

Because God’s way is simply better.

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.  God’s Decree. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” … Isaiah 55:8-9 (The Message)

When I think back on these two times in my life when my circumstances felt crushed to dust, I can smile now knowing the truth of God’s declaration here. His ways ARE better! His thoughts for me ARE better! God took the dust of that broken marriage and did a new thing that never would’ve happened if I had stuck to my way of doing things and had not moved 1000 miles out of my comfort zone. God’s way gave me new confidence . His way showed me the rewards of obedience. His way showed me His heart and His great love for me. He drew me closer to Himself as He molded a new creation out of my dust. His way brought me new love, a new marriage with Him at the center and three sons I adore. God took the dust of our broken pay check and showed us how great His provision is, how perfect His timing is. He brought my husband a wonderful new career way closer to home. He brought me new children to love and care for. He showed me that even though I felt forsaken for a time, it was a lie. He never left our side or was ever unaware of what was happening.

He is simply good. He knows what to do when our lives are shattered to dust. My encouragement for you today if you are feeling shattered is to trust in His goodness , His love for you, and His timing in your situation. He knows what’s going on. He won’t take His eye off you. So mourn, mope, scream, do whatever you need to do to deal with the emotions but quickly shake off the dust. And let God create something new and magnificent with it.

If you have a story to share where God has turned your dust to glory, I’d love to hear it. I bet it would encourage someone else!

Oh but what God will do!!

From “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst


The Pursuit of Perfection

The Pursuit of Perfection

As she strained to open her eyes , I wonder what she was thinking. Was she confused? Disoriented? Did she immediately know what was going on? Was she astounded by the love I’m sure she saw in the Eyes that gazed upon her first? She was created into a world without flaw. The beauty before her must have been breathtaking. Did she even realize that?

Luscious green gardens that grew magnificently regardless of her lack of knowledge in caring for them. Flowers she never had to water or plant for that matter. No bugs to eat away the leaves . The nearby river never overflowed nor did it show any signs of pollution. I bet the fish from this river tasted so amazing they didn’t need any Panko OR garlic! I can only imagine!

When her Creator took her to meet Adam for the first time, I wonder what she thought? I mean they were naked! Unless you are a nudist by nature, can you imagine how awkward that must’ve been!! Where did their eyes fall? Nothing was covered.

Nothing!!

In spite of this, they felt no shame. She wasn’t worried about cellulite or extra weight in her belly. He wasn’t concerned with his six pack or lack thereof and, if he had back hair, he simply didn’t care. They were just perfect.

EVERYTHING was perfect!

Until it wasn’t.

Enter the serpent and that oh so appealing tree with the fruit they just had to have a bite of. Suddenly they realized that knowing everything wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If the fruit was actually an apple, I wonder if a worm crawled out of it as Eve took that first bite and suddenly realized her toes were weird and she was jiggly in places she didn’t like to be jiggly! As she sought out the biggest fig leaf she could find to cover herself, I wonder if the perfectly lush grass under her feet all of a sudden had weeds poking through.

All that perfection. Gone with one moment of self indulgence.

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“The human heart was created in a context of the perfection of the Garden of Eden. But we don’t live there now. This is why our instincts keep firing off the lie that perfection is possible. We have pictures of perfection etched into the very DNA of our souls.”

“It’s Not Suppose to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst

When I first heard Lysa Terkeurst talk about “life between the Gardens”, it was such a WOW!! moment for me. I had never thought of how our lives are book-ended with the perfection of the two gardens. God’s intention for us at creation was for us to live in His perfectly created world with no shame, guilt, anxiety, endless etc’s! And His intention for us at the end of this life on Planet Earth is the perfection of the New Heaven and the New Earth . Another garden riddled with perfection!

The time we spend between the two is a constant seeking for the perfect. I’m sure that looks different for each of us. What I deem perfect, someone else may declare sloppy. We search for the perfect in so many things…spouses, homes, vacations, food, friends, pictures of ourselves! Yes, my current Facebook profile picture is totally filtered!

See. This is exactly how I look!
I mean, this is how AirBrushed me looks with sparkly white teeth and a flawless complexion!

There’s not one thing wrong with seeking to do all things well. But in our pursuit of perfection, are we doing ourselves any favors? When we airbrush our profile pics , do we feel a stab of disappointment when we look in the mirror and there’s no AirBrush app to take out the coffee stains on our teeth before we head out for the day? Are we making ourselves and possibly all involved crazy seeking the illusion of perfection? Because, really? Is perfection truly even possible this side of heaven? The perfectly clean house is just gonna get dusty again and those amazing vacuum marks are gonna get walked on. The perfect vacation may get rained on. The perfect hair color is just going to turn gray again! That perfect friend is going to say something one day that hurts you to the core of your soul. And that perfection you worked so hard to achieve is going to vanish like a cloud of vapor.

When we seek perfection on our own, in our own power, we will never find it. We’ll be like dogs chasing our tails that we can never catch. But here in this life “between the gardens”, we have been given a Great Gift that will bring us that perfection we seek so savagely.

“And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” …Hebrews 5:9

What if we sought after Jesus as hard as we fight for the perfect anything else? What if we just surrendered our desires for perfection to Him and just admitted that we can do nothing with true perfection without His help, without His guidance, without His love?

He IS the perfection “between the gardens” that will fit into the heart shaped hole we keep trying to stuff a square shaped peg into! So if you are a self proclaimed Perfectionist currently making yourself nuts because perfection is hard, can I encourage you with this last thought? Release yourself today from the pressures of the illusion of perfection. Grab on tight to the perfect peace that is yours when you keep your mind on Jesus and trust in Him! Work hard and do your best but leave the perfection to the only One who can and who has ever achieved perfection!

You are loved by Him in all your glorious imperfectness!!

The Evolution of a Convo with The Man Upstairs

The Evolution of a Convo with The Man Upstairs

I once was a little Catholic girl who loved playing church on Sunday afternoons with my sister. A plain, ice cream cone…hold the ice cream…made fabulous communion wafers. I guess we’d take turns being the “priest” serving each other and saying the words we had long memorized. I’m sure we sang “Kumbaya” when we were done but I can’t be sure of that. I did love a little “hippy folk music” back in the day!

Me with my sisters and mom in the courtyard of our church. Circa The Flying Nun days!

I had a period where I longed to go to Catholic school. I think I liked their uniforms. I was also fascinated by The Flying Nun and pictured all the nun teachers being just like Sally Field. Wouldn’t that have been sweet? Besides, I was such a good girl I had no fear of big, mean nuns blasting my knuckles with their extra long rulers of torture. Sadly for me, the Catholic school thing never happened. I also had visions of becoming a nun but this little fantasy clashed loudly with my desire to have a large family one day. Fast forward many years and I now have 5 kids…the nun thing never happened either.

In spite of my fascination with all things Catholic and religious as a child, I really have no memories of praying a lot. If God and I ever had any convos during my younger days, they might have gone something like this…

Hello My sweet little Princess. I am God and I love You.”

“Ummm, now I lay me me down to sleep? God is great God is good?”

I had no clue how to pray unless I could read it from a book. Original words to pray never, ever came to me…ever.

I once was a young woman in my 20’s who still loved God , still enjoyed church…though I did go through a phase of trying life without God. That didn’t work out well for me, by the way. I stepped away from the Catholic church and planted myself firmly in a Methodist congregation. I took my young daughter to the nursery most every Sunday while I sang in the choir and played a mean hand bell. I went to Sunday school when I could get up and dressed in time. But you know how it is with young children. Mom gets dressed and ready. Then it’s baby’s turn. You feed her, bathe her and get her dressed. Right as you’re about to walk out the door, baby barfs all over you and herself. You change everyone’s  clothes but as you’re doing this,  baby gets that scrunchy red face that means only one thing. Then you smell it. And well….I was lucky to get to my place behind my C bell before I had to ring it!

In spite of how holy I was with all that church choir singing and bell ringing, praying was still not the most comfortable part of my day. When God and I had conversations back then, they might’ve gone something like this…

Hello again My precious Daughter. I’ve loved you since before you were born. Like an open book, I’ve watched you grow through all the stages of your life. I have prepared great things for you my Princess. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.”

“Ummm, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come …and all that. Ummm, God bless my family and friends. Ummm, thank you for this day. Ummm and God, please don’t let that guy over there call on me to pray out loud!! I may burst into tears if he even looks my way! “

Breaking out of my memorized, rote prayers was still difficult. And scary. And the thought of praying in front of people like those Sunday school teachers made me want to hurl!

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I once  was a young woman somewhere in my 30’s, fed up with prayers written by someone else . Mesmerized by the beautiful words I would hear others pray, I was still mum with my own frilly, pretty, poetic prayer words. Why would anyone want to hear my prayers when that person over there prays so beautifully? So I guess I must practice. It might’ve sounded something like this…

Oh Father as You sitteth on Your holy throne in heaven, be pleased to look downeth upon us, thy faithful servants and bestow us with thy most holy of blessings. Let your love poureth out on us like rays of thy most holy sunshine. …”

“And who exactly is this? You don’t sound like yourself today Child. Don’t be tempted to role play before Me. Just be yourself. There is no formula or program or technique for getting what you want from Me. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Daddy you’re dealing with here and I know better than you what you need. Because I love you so much, you can pray very simply…in your own words. “

Really? But my words are so goofy sounding. And You! You are so awesome. I want my words to be right and intelligent and beautiful and meaningful…..”

Oh my sweet girl, they will be as long as they come from your heart and not the mouth of someone you deem more righteous in prayer! I want to hear from YOU! YOU!! Speak to me as if I’m you’re friend, because I am! “

Again, really? Have you heard me stumble through conversations with FRIENDS? You’re GOD!!  I guess I’ll try this because You , God, really are quite fabulous. I really do love You…ALOT! I’m so thankful for all You’ve done for me. I can’t imagine allowing my son to die for the sins of the world, yet that’s exactly what You did! For ME! Wow God! I’m humbled and amazed by You! Thank You for loving little old me in spite of everything. I trust You and believe You! In Jesus’ sweet, holy, and oh so precious name… So Daddy, how was that? Did I sound OK?”

Oh you precious thing! I do believe you’re starting to get it ! I love you so!”

Awww…I love You too!”

Journaling prayers has helped me feel more comfortable with using my own words when I pray!

Disclaimer: The words of God were not actual words I ever heard from God. But I did take some from The Message version of the bible.  And I took some from my own crazy head…this is what God sounds like to me

Dog Walkers, A Saxophone and Conversations Not My Own

I’m sitting here in a  city that I’ve never been to ,drinking coffee, ready  to write something amazing.  I know I’ll  be inspired to write great things because I’m not one bit distracted.   Just me and Jesus.    I don’t know anyone here so I won’t have to talk to anyone.    I don’t have any responsibilities but to sit here and think and pray and   let words fly from my fingers.   I’m in my little invisible shell where nothing and nobody can bother me.   I don’t even have to worry about my phone because it’s sitting next to me , a little black box with no power!   There’s NOT EVEN ANY WIFI HERE!!!    Will I survive this afternoon?!?  Somebody fan me before I pass out!!  

But Lawdybeeeeee.    The lake!  The ducks!  The dog walkers!   The saxophone music wafting into my ear space from somewhere! All the conversations happening around me!    There is SO much right here to look at and listen to.    I have fallen prey to the monster of distraction!   Even the things that should’ve brought a peaceful distraction-free afternoon have become preoccupations for me.

Distractions! Can we truly escape them, especially in this “always connected” space of time we live in?  In our own strength, chances are the pull towards the distractions will win.   We won’t get anything productive done.   We’ll make one time zapping decision after another.     Our ears will tune in to the conversations of 21 year old strangers nearby.  Not only do I know they’re all 21 , I also know most of their names (first and last), where they’re from and that 90% of all the people in their “plan” are hooking up. The only thing I didn’t learn from intently overhearing these yung-uns talking was what the “plan” was. I’m sure it was college stuff…the plan. I wonder if they’ll ever achieve their goals with all the shenanigans obviously going on amongst them!

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I was not trying to hear every word of these kids’ conversations. They were sitting so close, though. And not exactly whispering. And my phone was dead, remember? So I couldn’t turn on my favorite Christian music, pop in my ear buds and tune them out. Their words became the music in my ears and I. WAS. DISTRACTED !! (Btw, this photo isn’t of the shenanigan loving folks I had fallen audience to. My phone had died by then and I couldn’t get a real picture of them…not that I would take pictures of random strangers in a city not my own! The nerve!! )

FAST FORWARD TWO DAYS…..because I became too distracted to do another dog gone thing on that breezy coffee shop patio. As I look back on this moment of my weekend, I realize I learned something valuable about myself. Something I’ve known all along, honestly. Try as I may to do the important things. Try as I may to keep my eyes on the prize and my ear to the voice of God, I . GET. DISTRACTED. I’m not immune to any shape , form, or fashion of a “bunny trail” life throws in my path. When I allow these diversions to change my course for the day, they become the boss of me and my day is no longer my own.

Let me just throw this out here. If you are a believer like me, you likely grasp the fact that God has a plan for your life. A good and perfect and amazing plan even. But did you know that the enemy also has a plan for us?

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:3

There is nothing that delights the devil more than to see us be totally and mind numbingly distracted from anything God has for us. He wants our actions and our thoughts to be so self absorbed and so far from a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” that we barely even notice him at work. When I realize how little effort it takes to be sidetracked away from fun and easy things, how much more effort must the enemy put into leading us astray from the harder things God has for us? And by “harder”, I mean the more important things. Like feeding the hungry. Telling a friend about Jesus. Praying with someone who is hurting or sick. The things that will make a difference for the kingdom. You better believe that the sneaky snakey devil is gonna work overtime to make sure we feel inadequate or scared or unworthy to do such things. We’ll be reminded how cozy and quaint our little comfort zone is. And those things in and of themselves are enormous distractions

So Self? (Because I needed this reminder more than anyone!) Be aware! Sometimes it’s just cute dogs and soothing saxophone music that will serve to distract from the task at hand. Those things I’m totally aware of. But other times the distractions from the big, amazing God things may come completely from a different direction. I may not even see the distractions as distractions but more of a “Me doing Me” sorta thing.

So for Me and Everyone Else who has an ounce of desire to do things God’s way, here are some reminders of how to overcome these “my way is the best way ” distractions…

Abide in God. Keep Him close.

Let His word sink deeply into your soul.   Fill your mind with so many of His truths that there simply is no room for the lies of the distractions.

Don’t push Him to your backburner.   Keep Him in the forefront of your mind.   Wake up thanking Him for the breath in your lungs and the beating of your heart.    Talk to Him throughout the day.

Love Him more than you love your own way of doing anything.    There is power and confidence in that true love.   

I love how the Message phrases the “abide in Me” verses in 1John 2 . I will leave you with verses 24 and 25 and my prayer that you , too, can overcome the distractions in your life by staying with what you heard from the beginning.

“Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink in to your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life!”

You Sneaky Devil, You!

You Sneaky Devil, You!

It’s inevitable. Worry will hit you out of nowhere. Even if you’re basically not a worrier, life will often throw things in your path that will cause you stop and worry. Even if you KNOW that God has all things in His hands and you’re super great at handing Him your worries, sometimes you’re just not and worry sneaks in.

“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Thank you Matthew 6:27 for reminding me that the obvious answer to this question is …

N O !!!!

Nothing good is added to our lives by worry! Worry is a struggle. It can make you feel like you’re being strangled; like it’s choking the very life right out of you. What does worry accomplish? It DOES have some side effects you need to stay aware of. In my best “commercial voice-over” voice, here ya go.

Worrying may cause sleepless nights, belly aches, constipation, diarrhea, frequent vomiting, big zits to appear smack dab in the middle of your face, overeating, under eating, sweaty palms, the shakes, an uncontrollable desire to incessantly text the one causing worry, smeared mascara, drippy down your face mascara, heart palpitations and an overall sense of doom.

Bad side effects or not, can we all admit there are times when it’s just hard to not get consumed by worry? I admit, I worry about things way more than I should. It could be caused by legitimate things…like the poor health of a loved one. Traveling on icy roads and your car has bad tires. Worry can be caused by things we have no control over…like decisions other people make. Regardless of how anyone else may deem our worry, in the moment the worry is very real for the worrier.

By no means, have I figured it all out. As I said, I DO worry about stuff way more than I should. I have, though, discovered some ways to not become consumed by worry when it hits me! So if I may, allow me to share a few ways to help you combat the worry…the legit and the not so legit.

  • Distract yourself with something positive. What do you love to do? What are you good at? Maybe a good mindless Netflix binge would help. Find a good show that will make you laugh and forget about your worries. Turn on your favorite music and sing at the top of your lungs like nobody’s listening. Dance like nobody’s looking. Getting lost in a good book can also occupy your mind and help you forget the worrisome stuff. THE Good Book is an amazing choice here. The Bible is full of sweet advice to help ease your mind.
  • Speaking of The Good Book, after you’ve picked it up and read some of it, you are sure to have found many, many verses that address your needs. Write these down. When I am in a period of deep soul worry or concern, I love to see scriptures in the places I look every day . So I’ll write verses ,such as Psalm 55:22 , on sticky notes. “Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” I’ll stick these to my bathroom mirror or my kitchen cabinets . Anywhere I know my eyes will fall during the day. This helps so much to get God’s encouragement into my heart where it belongs. The more my empty places are filled with God’s truths, the less space there will be for worry.
  • Take a few minutes to just be by yourself and scream out loud. It’s OK! Cry! Stomp your feet !! Be mad at the fact that whatever it is you’re worrying about is taking up so much head space!! This release is strangely helpful.
  • And that takes us right into the next thing. While you’re screaming and crying in your “by yourself place” , cry out to God. PRAY!! If you’re worried or anxious about something and you think it’s His fault, He already knows that! So you can scream your worries to Him. They won’t surprise Him. He’s not gonna love you less because of it. You can cry out to Him for help. He’ll be there. He’ll listen. 1Peter 5:7 reassures us with this “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”   Let that sink in. God, the One who created the universe, CARES ABOUT YOU! So why do we worry in the first place?
  • Do something kind for another person. Serving others turns our focus off ourselves and on to them. When your mind is consumed with worry and concern, shifting your focus to the needs of someone else will take your mind off that worry! And turning your worry into something good and kind is a win!
  • Finally, TRUST GOD! This is the beat all , end all of how I cut out the worry. I trust that God has it. Whatever I’m worrying about, He’s on it, taking care of things in better ways than I ever could. Whoever I’m worrying about, He loves more. My self proclaimed life verse is Proverbs 3:5. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Oh how this verse has gotten me through a ton of angst. I don’t have to understand why things are as they are. I just need to trust God. It’s a choice I make daily.

Worry, concern, anxiety…they’re all just one way the enemy of our souls tries to distract us from the Lover of our souls. If the enemy can cause our thoughts to stray from God and onto ourselves and our worries , he’s winning. Yuck! The devil is NOT the one I want winning anything in my life!!! So promise me something. The next time you’re consumed by worry, scream out to the devil “NOT TODAY!!” Then do one of the things I suggested (or one of your own fool proof worry stoppers) to stop the worry in it’s tracks.

I’m leaving you with a song today. It’s one you can sing at the top of your lungs as you let the worries and concerns consuming you melt away. I hope you’ll listen. And sing it out loud and strong. I’d also love to know YOUR “beat all, end all” ways of stopping worry in its tracks. If you’d like to share your thoughts in the comments, your way may be a huge help to someone reading this today!

Immeasurably More

Immeasurably More

When the nice police officer pulled up to my house at 4:00 in the afternoon, my heart began racing. I started the mental inventory of placing all my kids and my husband and did I know their whereabouts that day. I began to brace myself for the worst possible scenario. Then I saw this nice man was carrying a hefty stack of papers. OK….good. It’s likely all my people were OK but my mind wandered to other nefarious things that this pile of paper would tell me. I had exactly zero reason to believe this visit had anything to do with me. I sadly admit I did a big old eye roll as my thoughts then turned to “What in the world has my husband done?” I’m not proud of this moment but it is what is. So imagine my complete and genuine surprise when the papers the officer handed me had MY NAME on them.

Cue the wah wah music…

What in the world had I done to deserve this visit? I stood there on my front porch and had a pleasant conversation with the police officer who had just delivered my unexpected doom. I thanked him, wished him a great day, appreciated his service…all the good things. This made my heart rate slow down some. Doing the things I’m good at in a moment I wasn’t sure how to handle otherwise. Police officers showing up at your door with messages of “you’ve messed up missy” may be common occurrences for some. But not for this girl .

So before I go on and your minds go to all the bad places on my behalf, let me give you this piece of advice. When you get a letter in the mail from a debt collector, don’t misplace it and think they’ll just send you another letter to remind you of the money you owe. Their next step just may be a nice police officer on your doorstep advising you of your court date.

Yes, I’m hearing more wah wah music…are you?

Thankfully this happened in a year where I was super concentrated on receiving MORE from the Lord . Many of you likely start each new year with a word to focus on throughout the year. You may pray and ask the Lord to give you this word. Or you may just come up with a word you feel you want to work on in your life. For me, the word MORE absolutely came from the Lord that year. I was smack dab in the middle of a time where He was more than willing to show off His ability to give me MORE of Him…MORE of His presence . MORE of His word. MORE of His love. MORE of His provision and protection.

As I stood in my foyer still shocked by seeing my name on these papers attached to a court day, I wallowed in self pity for all of about 2 minutes. Then the Lord smacked me upside the head…gently of course… and He told me “I’ve got this. Don’t worry. I’m gonna show you more of my love for you.”

And that He did. It’s an amazing thing for me to watch all the pieces fall into place when I truly just trust in His guidance . When I step out of the way and let Him have His way.

Let me just say this, though. Because I’m being transparent and real and all that. Sometimes God’s timing scares the fool out of me. Sometimes I wish He’d just speed things up and take care of things when I want Him to take care of things. Can I get an Amen?!?

Things were moving too slowly for me. I was becoming fearful that I was going to be out way more money than I had to give in that moment. The clock was ticking and I was literally just a few days from having to concede and say “Yes…I’ll meet you in court and give you all my money and then some.”

Seems I had forgotten God’s tendency to show up at the last minute for me. He doesn’t do that to be mean or spiteful. He does this because He ALWAYS has something amazing to show me in the waiting. And that He did. I was in my VSSM class that night. We were in a section of learning to be more aware of God’s voice…of tuning up our spiritual ears to hear His words for us and for others. As I sat with my group, I so badly wanted to hear a word for one of my friends, but my mind was so saturated with my current court concern and the lack of action taking place there that I just gave up on hearing anything for anyone. So I sat back and sorta begged God to give someone near me a word for me. Sounds selfish as I type out the words, but this was part of the lesson He had for me. No sooner had I ceased my begging for that word than I got it. My friend in front of me immediately turned around and said “Becky, I have a word for you.” I sat there in awe. I probably cried a little. Because she had no clue what I had been begging to hear from God. But He did. And He told me exactly what I needed to hear. When I got home from class that evening, I found I had an email that had been received at the exact moment my friend turned around to speak to me. The email was EXACTLY what I was hoping to hear and MORE. I would not have to go court and a settlement had been made. And all was well.

Because God. He loves to give us MORE than we can imagine. MORE than we hope for.

“God can do anything,you know—far MORE than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.”… Ephesians 3:20, The Message

God had me focus on the word MORE for a couple of years. I’m still waiting to hear from Him about a word for 2019. If you are someone who likes to start a new year with a focus word, I’d love to know what it is. Share it in the comments if you want. Then more importantly, prepare to be amazed at how God shows up for you this year.



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You Can’t Outrun the Gatorade

It started because someone was angry after being treated poorly. Hang on folks, because I’m about to make a football reference. Yep, me. A simple football tolerator is about to flash a football fact. Someone please let my son know I’ve done this. He won’t believe it!

Let’s talk about the almighty GATORADE/WATER SHOWER!

The first time the Gatorade Shower occurred was in the mid 1980’s after the New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins. Apparently, the Redskins coach had not been very nice to the Giants coach during the previous week’s practice times. I’m not sure exactly what went down but I can imagine there may have some name calling. Maybe some taunting. Probably some typical “we’ll always be better than you” banter happening. So when the Giants pulled off the win, Mr. Giants Coach took the nearest cooler of Gatorade and in what I imagine was likely a “Take that mister!” move, he poured the drink all over Mr. Redskins Coach. This move has since become a tradition for sports teams. It’s one I’m sure coaches look forward to because it means a great victory has occurred.

A big old giant blessing!

So yesterday after Clemson obliterated Notre Dame and we were all wondering how this game would’ve been different if they’d played the Bulldogs (I hope it’s not too soon for this comment!) , I noticed something the Clemson coach did. Knowing the giant wave of Gatorade was sure to come pouring down upon him, he stayed a little bit ahead of it. This likely wasn’t on purpose. He just had other things on his mind to do in that moment. One of the reporters who caught up to him noticed the same thing and said to him, “You almost outran the Gatorade!

You almost outran the Gatorade. The visual representation of the blessing he had just received with the big win. (Yes I know … this win seemed pretty easy. Insert snarky eye roll!)

Take a deep breath Georgia fans and let’s bring this back to Jesus…

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. “…2 Corinthians 9:8, The Message

What began as a “take that” move, ended up being a tradition based on victory. What may start in your life as a burden or a difficult time is not beyond God’s grasp. Financial difficulties allow God to bless you with the random acts of kindness of friends and even strangers. It can allow you the blessing of learning new and better ways to handle your finances. It can cause your eyes to open to how truly blessed you are in spite of the empty bank account. Unexpected moves can bring the blessing of new friends and a nicer place to live, etc., etc. God feels no limits in the ways He can bless us!

God will pour on the blessings in astonishing ways !

We can never outgrow, outsmart or outrun God when He’s ready to pour His blessings on us. It’s not even worth the effort of trying. And really? Why would you want to? Don’t even think for a second that you’re not worthy of receiving anything good from God. YOU ARE WORTHY of all His love and all His goodness and all the amazing things He wants to drench you with.

So be ready! Be expectant! You’re gonna be astonished!

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