I’ve been so quiet on my blog this past year. I’m not sure I’ve added one brand new post all year long. But you should see my list of started posts. It’s lengthy! Words about travel, faith, health, weight loss, politics, random stories all left unfinished and unpublished for one reason or another. The stopper in me is strong, I tell ya. So it’s amazing to me that my little corner of the written blog world added new subscribers and readers. Thank you new blog reading friends for the attention. It encourages me to write more.

Where to start though after such a long break? As I write this, the Christmas season has begun. I’m deep into both an Advent devotional and a full out Advent bible study. Through this early morning time with my cuppa Christmassy flavored coffee and my bible, I’ve been reminded of a super long break God took from the people many, many years ago. He was silent for 400 years. I can’t even imagine. How many generations felt nothing from God? Not a glance their way. Not a whisper with a comforting word of reassurance.

But God in His infinite greatness had a plan. It was a great plan, perfectly timed. He knew He wouldn’t stay silent forever…though come on. 400 years was plenty of someone’s “forever”. Bless it! He would make His great come back with a baby. A sweet , swaddled up newborn who came to be King. Jesus.

Jesus who would be the Light of the World , the Resurrection and the Life, the King of Kings, the Messiah.

Hold on there! Do you ever see something, hear something , smell something and you’re transported back in time to a memory? Lots of things do that for me. But right now, it’s the words “King of Kings” and “Messiah”. Right there, together, side by side. I have the sweetest childhood memory that involves those words. Let me take you back there with me , Dear Reader.

I was 7 or 8. Maybe 9 or 10. Who knows? It’s been over 50 years and who can remember all the things anymore? I may not remember how old my little self was but I do remember exactly how I felt when my mom asked me to help her play the Hallelujah Chorus for a performance of Handel’s Messiah. My mother has been an incredible organist for as long as I can remember. I was a little girl just beginning to learn to play the piano. But she had full confidence that I could play three little notes for her and be the needed third hand she must’ve desperately needed . Or maybe she could’ve done it and just wanted this mother/daughter moment. Whatever, it was a confidence booster for her novice, nervous piano student.

At any rate, my shy, timid little self (don’t be fooled by this photo that makes me look far more outgoing than I actually was!) set out to make my momma proud playing those three little notes behind the words “KING OF KINGS”. Actually, it was six because those same three notes accompanied the next words in the song, “LORD OF LORDS.” As a full grown adult woman, I sing a lot. Humming around the house, music playing in my home 90% of the day. I can feel confident that this habit likely began in those days when I was practicing for my big Messiah moment with my momma. I can almost hear my little voice, humming or singing the notes that went along with “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

Names of Jesus on repeat in my young, impressionable head.

Did my mother know the impact this would have on the entirety of my life? Did I? I don’t know. She was probably hopeful I’d develop a love of piano playing and maybe become a great organist one day. Maybe her love of music would develop in me. I’m certain she was hopeful I’d love Jesus forever. Some of these things stuck.

Jesus. He stuck. In my young and impressionable mind, those weeks of practicing my part in the Hallelujah chorus, singing through those names of Jesus over and over again….it was like the beginning of super gluing Him to my heart. I just wanted to do a good job. I didn’t want to mess up or embarrass myself or my mom. I’m sure that’s all it meant to me at the time . But those words, unbeknownst to myself in those moments, were speaking life into my soul.

The words we say to ourselves have power.

Choose them wisely! Your words to yourself should mimic the words your Creator says about you. You are loved, able, perfectly created, healed, strong, forgiven and so on! And if you’re a parent, choose the words you say to your children even more wisely! They’re gonna stick, whether they’re great affirming words or life sucking words. I say again, choose those words wisely!

I’m so grateful I was raised in a home by parents who loved me and spoke well to me. They never ever even cursed in our presence. But piano seems to be one of those skills you lose if you don’t use it . I recently had the chance to spend an entire week with my parents. Just me and them. It was fabulous. My mom still has a piano in the living room so, of course, I had to sit down on the piano bench and see if any notes would come back to me. I searched Mom’s music for something I could play with my right hand. I can still bang out a pretty decent treble clef only song. I found a hymn…of course…and started playing it. It didn’t take long for my mom to come into the room, taking over that pesky bass clef part that I couldn’t for the life of me play at the same time my right hand was playing. Playing piano with my mom …again. Creating a song together. Another sweet memory. We were both so excited that we could make out the song we were playing in spite of the fact that it’s been a good long minute since I played anything.

I guess I figured out where to start again after my rather long writing break. Jesus is always the right answer! Maybe now I can go back and address all those unfinished blog stories!

Until next time…which I hope is sooner rather than later… keep JOYFULLY clamoring!

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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A Beautiful Mess

My life after childhood turned out exactly like I thought it would.  I graduated from college at the top of my class.    Found the love of my life and the perfect job immediately.     We had children quickly and they were all the picture of perfection….never cried  or spit up and they slept through the night from birth .  They always minded us and  did all the right things always.    My marriage and job and our finances and ALL.  THE.  THINGS?    Magnificent!   Dreamy!   No worries or complaints.

And why wouldn’t this all be true?    I mean, I grew up  a good Catholic girl.   I loved God and even wanted to be a nun for a while.   Surely I had found all the favor and would have the picture perfect life.    No problems.  No stress.  All the things in line.   

And as I dreamed all these things, I imagine God was getting a good chuckle.   Because He had some lessons for me that could only happen outside the box of my little perfect dream.

“I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to Me , I’ll listen.  When you come looking for Me, you’ll find me.  Yes, when you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.  I’ll turn things around for you. “…The Lord (Jeremiah 29:11-14, The Message)

Well, very few of the perfect dream things actually happened.    My reality has looked  a bit more like this…

  1. I completed 90 hours of college and had to quit before I could graduate.   Life got in the way.
  2. I had a beautiful, small wedding and married a man I wasn’t completely sure was “the one”.   We divorced in less than 7 years.   God lead me to  “the one” several years later and we have been married now for 24 years.   But we’ve still had struggles.    Lots of them.
  3. I have dealt with one unsatisfying job after another because I never clearly decided what I wanted to be when I grew up.  The nun thing never panned out!   LOL
  4. I did have perfect children.   Five of them to be exact!   But they did spit up and cry as babies and they didn’t always make good choices in their pre-teen or teen years! 
  5. I’ve dealt with single parenting, job loss, lack of income, the loss of loved ones, disappointments, broken promises, fears, insecurities, doubts and the list goes on and on….

My BEAUTIFUL  , messy,   complicated reality. 

Every tear.  Every sleepless night.   Every cringe worthy moment. Every doubt and fear.   All of these moments needed to mix with the joyful moments and the heart bursting moments of love and the deemed perfect times.   

Every ingredient in the mix of my life has been needed to get me to where I am now.    And that’s a place where I can so clearly see the blessing of my unanswered prayers for that elusive “perfect” life .  Where  I can clearly see God’s mercy and His grace poured out all over the place.   Where I can see the perfection of His plan coming to be.   

I love the blessing of hindsight.   I love to look back on  times in my life and imagine how things would be different now if I had made other choices.   Or if things had gone according to MY plan instead of His.  And honestly?   Things would’ve been different.   But  I’m not sure anything would’ve been better.    And I know I would’ve missed out on SO MUCH!  So as the old Garth songs goes, “I thank God for unanswered prayers”! 

So if you’re in a weird place right now and you feel you’re  many shades away from perfect, hang on.     God will use these moments in your life.   But He won’ t leave you there because it takes way more than what you’re going through now to achieve the perfect life He has planned for you.     He’ll mix this moment  beautifully with the good times and the in-between times.

He WILL turn things around for you.    You won’t be disappointed.  

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