When Mother’s Day Is Enough for Everyone

The days leading up to Mother’s Day can be a struggle for many women. Expectations are high largely in part to everything we see in the media and our local shopping malls. It has become one of the most financially successful holidays for businesses.

This year I did a little research wanting to understand the history of Mother’s Day and what I found was fascinating and yet disturbing. Mother’s Day has a darker history then we might realize.

A woman named Anna Jarvis, who had no children of her own was inspired to create Mother’s Day as a celebration to honor her own mom who was a social activist.

Her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs before the Civil War to help improve sanitary conditions and infant mortality and when the war started helped with wounded soldiers.

Anna’s intent in creating the holiday was simple, to honor her mother who died in 1905. She intended the day to be an intimate celebration which was officially put on the calendar by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

In the years that followed her intimate holiday turned into a commercial landslide for consumerism which disturbed Anna deeply. She fought most of her life to reverse what it had become and as a result died penniless and in a sanitarium. She loathed what it had turned into.

I have to agree with Anna, although it’s nice to receive flowers, chocolates or a gift, I believe as women we have been set-up.

We are set up to believe what the media and commercial stores want us to think.

That our happiness and value as a woman comes from what we receive on Mother’s Day.

If we don’t receive flowers from our children, a card or a gift we must not be appreciated.

If we don’t have a special gift from our husbands we must not be valuable to the family.

If we can’t celebrate the day living like a queen, there must be something terribly wrong.

Not to mention all the women in our world who aren’t mothers, or have struggles relationally with their mothers, or women who have lost their moms. What do they do with all those messages thrust in their face?

In part, Anna Jarvis was correct. Her desire to celebrate the one person in her life in an intimate way who had been an example of loving others well and giving kindness was crushed by the greed of our culture. She fought her whole life against the rising commercialism of this day.  It has taken over and launched expectations that are nearly impossible to meet and clouded the simple joy of taking a day to appreciate the women in our life who have influenced and nurtured our souls.

I am not allocating to stop giving cards and gifts and making the day special. It is good to honor our mothers. I LOVE PRESENTS AND GIFTS! LOL.

I like Anna, am advocating that we take a step back and readjust our perspective for the day, strip off some of the commercialism and don’t buy into the lies that we hear leading up to this holiday.

For me, I don’t want to put expectations on my family that create the kind of pressure that feels like obligation. I know I have in the past and I am looking at the day with new eyes. I am secure in knowing I am loved by them and that is enough for me.

In recent years, I am coming to grips with the people in my life, they will never be enough for me.

Not ever.

They will disappoint and let me down and I will fail them.

My hope is in the truth of understanding only Jesus can be enough for me. That is worth all the fine gifts I could ever receive. He is the one who dictates my worth and my value. I don’t need the sentiments of cards, jewelry, chocolate, a nice dinner to tell me I am valuable. God says I am enough because He is enough.

Do I like to be remembered? Is it nice to receive a card from the children I birthed? Is it nice to be taken out to a lovely dinner? Of course, three times over! However, it isn’t going to be what I need tomorrow to fill me up to overflowing. God does that first and then the rest is just that, extra blessing, extra joy to make me smile.

To read more about the history:

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140508-mothers-day-nation-gifts-facts-culture-moms/

 

 

Saving Christmas

Her deep brown-black eyes and dark curly hair beckoned a second look from me in the store. She was standing all alone holding a book and as soon as her eyes saw mine she called out timidly, “Where’s my Nana?”

My friend and I looked around and didn’t see any adults close by. I leaned down and told this sweet little girl we would help her find her Nana. I offered my hand and she clung to it instantly and followed us to the front of the store. Before we approached the counter she saw her Nana and went running. It was a sweet reunion. She was safe in the arms of the familiar, her Nana.

Nana then encouraged her to say thank you and after a few seconds she said,

“Thank you for saving me,” in her darling three year old voice.

My heart melted as I mulled the phrase, thank you for saving me over and over.

I noticed the store piled with Christmas décor and I couldn’t help but thinking in that moment what “saving” means for me and for you this season. Christmas is coming and it will be here soon, 25 days to be exact.

I pose this question.

What do you need to be saved from as we approach Christmas?

Is it an overly busy schedule with not enough time to get everything done?

Is it finances?

Is it relational heartache that can’t be mended anytime soon?

Is it having to readjust expectations and simplify in order to stay sane?

Is it the news you have been dreading to hear and it has come true?

I know for me as I reflect on the days to come, my heart is broken for a few of my dear friends. One who suddenly lost her husband last month and two dear friends who lost their adult daughters this past year. I’d love to gather them all up and take away the hurt and pain, to save them from the heartache of celebrating with memories instead of holding their loved ones close. Others face sickness, families torn relationally, bills to pay without enough money to cover them and on and on the stories pour in. And yet, Christmas still will come as it does every year regardless of what we are facing, joy or sorrow.

It will come.

Christmas will be on time as usual and as we rummage through the commercialism that shouts to us, we can find peace and hope in the familiar arms of Jesus.

Maybe He isn’t familiar to you, maybe Jesus feels distant and uncaring, maybe you’ve been wounded. But He is the only one who can save us. It might look different, there may still be pain and sorrow, but He can save us with the gift of His unfathomable love. His hand is waiting to lead us to Himself if we let Him.

The little girl in the store had to let me take her to her Nana. She had to will it, even though she was afraid in that moment. Jesus does the same. Not just at Christmas but everyday.

As we surrender to his hand, He saves us.

As we acknowledge we can’t do Christmas without Him, He saves us.

As we realize we can’t take our next breath, He saves us.

As we recognize we can’t make our family behave, He saves us.

As we try to make Christmas a meaningful time for our families with little resources, He saves us.

As we gaze on that child in the nativity scene, he whispers His promise of redemption and…

He saves us.

 

 

 

When Toxic Thoughts Take Over

I am not typically your jump out of bed greet the morning with a smile kind of person. I am what you might call a slow wake put my feet on the ground get my tea first or else be cranky individual. I’ve tried all sorts of things to turn into a morning person but my hard wiring is fundamentally not to be fresh in the morning. Having children however forced me to work on being a morning person. I just had to get up earlier than they did in order to be somewhat cognitive and pleasant.

Because I am not a morning person, it is life or death for me to organize my thoughts in the right direction. It sets the tone for the day and my relationships. If I am worried or stressed without surrendering those leftover thoughts from the day before it becomes catastrophic for the remainder of the new day and those I bump into. I can exercise a bit of self-control but I still leak unless I am intentional about dwelling on what is in my brain space.

Lately, I have been working on those leftover toxic thoughts that have unconsciously taken over certain parts of my life. Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Who Switched Off My Brain says this, Whatever you think about grows. Don’t focus on what you are going through but what you are going to. I’ve been relearning a common truth that if I keep dwelling on toxic thoughts they will grow and then those thoughts grow into habits and habits grow into toxic words and behaviors.

So what do we do when toxic thoughts takeover?

There is a reason that book of Romans says, …but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. In the front end of Romans 12:2 the writer says to not conform to the patterns of this world. In other words, to think like everyone else is thinking, to change the way we think by renewing our thoughts. Renewing has the implication of changing from something from the inside out as John Piper says in his writings on The Renewed Mind and How to Have It.

Resisting those leftover thoughts and then making a conscious out loud decision to do something with those nagging critters is the solution.

Surrender them to Jesus.

Give them up, write them down and tear it up.

Each time they threaten to sneak under the door of your mind, have a plan of what you will do to not chew on those leftover thoughts. Really, leftovers are only good for a little while then you eventually have to throw them out!

If you and I aren’t intentional about this every single day, toxic thoughts can…

BLOCK OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD – the further I move away from surrendering my thoughts to God the farther I stay away from God believing the lie that He can’t or won’t be able to help me.

ROB OUR JOY – the toxicity can block our perspective of seeing even the little things in life that can make us smile.

POISON RELATIONSHIPS – no matter how hard we try and keep it in, that poison from toxic thoughts can leak into small barbs or unkindness to those around us.

KILL PRODUCTIVITY – allowing those toxic thoughts to continue growing eventually blocks our creativity. I know for me, it has paralyzed me from moving forward.

DIMINISHES OUR INFLUENCE – our influence is our greatest asset and when toxic thoughts reign over our life we limit our ability to positively influence others.

CAUSE DESPAIR TO REIGN – continuing to think and obsess over situations that we can’t control or ones that we have a measure of controlling destroys our trust in God. The enemy sneaks in with his secret weapons…disappointment, discouragement and despair to rule over our minds.

All of the above I have experienced when I’ve chewed and chewed on my leftover toxic thoughts. It’s a habit that I want to break and I am praying that God helps me to continue to change from the inside out. I have allowed pain and wounds to paralyze me to the point of developing unhealthy thinking patterns and I am so done! I won’t lie to you, it hasn’t been easy to re-wallpaper my mind with God’s truth. I’ve created some pretty strong ruts in my thinking. But there is too much at stake not just for each of us but for those lives we influence to get stuck in toxicity of the mind.

Will you join me? God so wants us to flourish in every area of our life like a tree growing with bountiful fruit. He wants to embed his truth both in our heart and our minds. Let’s make a strategic plan to make sure we reclaim this ground in our mind for good!

 

 

 

 

When Mother’s Day Hurts

I let go of my expectations of Mother’s Day a long time ago.

That’s not to say I never had any, I did and lots of them. There was a small wrinkle in our life that never seemed to iron itself out. Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday and that is a full-on working day for my husband. When I said I do, I married a man who had committed his life to working on Sundays forever with The Bride of Christ, the church.

He is a pastor and when our children were younger we were involved in a dynamic large church. Bless his heart, he tried really hard to meet my unspoken and of course out-loud expectations, but year after year it just didn’t really work out. One year I remember that he had put our teenage son Jeremy, in charge of finishing up the meal for us after church. It turned out pretty well until we sat around the table and saw that we were missing one of our kids. Kevin had accidentally forgot to bring our middle son home. I thought he was bringing Jordan home that day but apparently we miscommunicated. It happens when you are a two car go-to-church family. It wouldn’t be the last time that one of us thought we had all the kids. I finally decided that it was okay and I knew that I was loved and celebrated other days of the year.

I’ve been reading some really good blogs this past week on this very topic about Mother’s Day and expectations and I’ve come to a conclusion.

Sometimes Mother’s Day doesn’t work out the way it is advertised incessantly in the media of seeing every store lined with flowers, chocolate and the perfect gift to get Mom.

Hallmark kind of commercials and happy faces don’t always materialize on that day.

Sometimes, Mother’s Day just plain hurts.

I have women in my world who wish they could be mothers and aren’t. I have friends who have lost their mothers to heaven too young and others who have watched their Mom wither away in a nursing home helpless to ease those last days. I have friends whose mother’s just don’t get them and they long for approval and acceptance. I know of women who stay home from church on that day because it doesn’t seem to address all women and the vast delicate emotions that can haunt the day.

It hurts. It’s painful. It’s not a picture perfect day.

What do we do then when Mother’s Day hurts? Let’s keep it as upbeat as we can for those who actually enjoy the day and the rest of us can just tough it out for the day. NOT!! When I was younger and not very wise, I had that very opinion, why does it have to be so hard for everyone? After all, good grief, it’s only one day!

The key word in that sentence is “grief.” Mother’s Day can bring grief, incalculable grief for many. Unmet expectations and scratching off scabs that we just try to let go and forget the other 364 days of the year.

The truth is, it can feel absolutely crushing for some and others it brings great joy and elation. What do we do then?

This is a blog and of course it is my opinion, but I think the answer is simply this…

Let’s give room to all women to be who they are on that day.

Let’s each decide how to either celebrate or grieve and give a wide-open space and abundant grace to each other.

Let’s pray for the women in our world who struggle and not add to their pain by placing our own judgments and expectations.

Let’s not add to the message that gets shouted at us by commercialism and try to put all women in that narrow box.

Let it be and let’s choose to celebrate all women as they are and wherever they might find themselves in the present.

To all my sisters who find this day beyond difficult, I pray your heart will be comforted by the great comforter, the Holy Spirit and you would know that,

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

 

 

When You Can’t Let Go

Today I am wrestling.

Dark thoughts.

Hard stuff.

Disappointments.

Yesterday, I listened to my two of my grandchildren sing along with that infamous tune, Let it Go, from the movie Frozen. So innocent, so sweet, and unassuming of what that phrase truly means.

To tell the truth, I am not sure, I fully understand what it really means myself!

And yet, it resonates over and over with the pile that has been amassing in my heart of past hurts and disappointments. There are certain dates and times of events and encounters that sneak into my heart reminding me, “This time, last year, or five years ago, or ten, this happened and this is what was said or done.”

I am a master at rehearsing and it can ruin my day, corrupt my attitude and make my soul sick unless I “Bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.” as 2 Corinthians instructs us to follow. But even as I attempt to do that, and ask Jesus over and over again to help me, I still can get stuck and I don’t like that and that’s when I have to go outside of myself and ask others for some help. Some encounters are easier to let go of, ones that have worked out. But others linger like garbage smelling up everything because I’ve worked so hard to get rid of it, but the lack of mutual resolution keeps it alive.

This past month has been unpredictable and a little testier for my soul. January felt new and fresh and I made plans on how to embrace my one word for 2016 LIVE BOLD. Then February slammed in with an assortment of disappointments and it hasn’t quit. Did you notice I didn’t post a single blog in February? UGH! More disappointment and guilt.

What do we do then when we can’t let go?

Get back under the covers and hide? It’s tempting, let me tell you.

What do we do when most of life is par excellent but the lingering pieces threaten to capsize the rest?

For me the guilt piles on because I have an infinite amount of things to be grateful for in my life.

Here are seven things of what I am learning lately that are helping me to put it all in perspective and I am hoping it will help you if you are in this place. They aren’t rocket science and pretty simplistic but sometimes you just need simple.

  1. Life will never be exactly what I hope it will be. Life brings both disappointments and times that are exhilarating and purposeful making us smile large. This life on earth is temporary. Readjust and place HOPE in a person, Jesus, rather than people or situations.
  2. People are unpredictable and can change. Give grace. Love them where they are at and adjust the relationship (i.e. how much you invest, spend time with them, etc.) if necessary in order to move forward.
  3. Don’t live with a disguise. Many of us learn to live with disguises, as I just heard from a guest speaker at our church this past Sunday. Don’t be one of them. Continue to be authentic even if it is uncomfortable for others. Telling the truth is always best. We can’t control outcomes or responses of our truth-telling.
  4. Practice gratitude continually. Every night I try to list at least three things I can be thankful for the past hours of my day. It helps to overcome my dark thoughts and is the best sleeping aid ever.
  5. Pray always and keep alert with perseverance. (Ephesians 6:18) I mean really, Cynthia, do you pray always? All through the day? I am such a wimp and desiring to be better at this. Some mornings I just sit in front of my prayer wall and say, “God, here I am, help me because I’m not very good at this prayer thing sometimes.” He meets me right there as I sit, sometimes for just five minutes, sometimes much longer, but the point is, He meets me where I am at and honors my efforts.
  6. Laugh. Invest in things that give joy and renew the weariness of the soul. For me, it is creating whether writing, drawing, sewing or working on a project. It gives life.
  7. Reach out and bless someone else who is facing struggle and disappointment. And writing a quick note on FB or pushing a heart LIKE on someone’s post doesn’t count. Social media has lured us into the false reality that we are connecting with each other in community online. It just isn’t true and doesn’t mean as much. A handwritten card sent in the mail, taking someone out for coffee or tea, taking a walk with a friend with face to face human contact conveys true and meaningful relationship. Don’t hide behind social media, it is isolating and isn’t authentic community.

The answer to the question for me of why it is harder to let go sometimes is because I lose perspective. I am short-sighted, I have good intentions but can get mixed up. I want to frame life differently so I can embrace this gift of life rather than stay stuck in the disappointments.

So here’s to singing….LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO!

Why You Can’t Rush the Healing of a Broken Heart

Today is a quiet day. Everything I had planned on my agenda, God wiped away and left me with a clutter free day. This Monday was supposed to be full with a car oil change, holding my sweet granddaughter and a salon appointment. One by one circumstances changed and the cancellations came in. My heart took notice and as I was sitting, resting and watching the softness in the sky of a cloudy day, God surprised me. I clicked on a link to hear a song, Clean by Natalie Grant. It’s a new song about being made clean by the maker of our heart and soul. I listened to it probably 10 times and let the truth of the lyrics take hold.

I’ve spent the last two weekends sharing with hundreds of women part of my healing journey and restoration the past few years. Those close in my world, know that my marriage was in serious trouble several years ago and I thought we weren’t going to make it. I was broken, shattered and couldn’t see any hope in the storm.

But as I shared with a crowd of women on Saturday,

Hope isn’t just an expectation, it is a person, Jesus.

He is the healer of all things broken, all things shattered when life is messy and it doesn’t make sense.

When the pain breaks you to the point of despair it’s hard to believe in the moment that you will ever be whole again.

That you will ever dream again.

That life will ever smile on you again.

I had many weeks, days and even months feeling like that. But as I chose to ride out the storm in the boat with a heart broken and shattered, Jesus made a way and gave me peace. It was hard, it was complicated, it was messy and sometimes ugly. I struggled with believing, I struggled surrendering my feelings, but out of desperation I obeyed that small still voice that said, “Trust me.” Sometimes I had to do it several times a day, hour by hour and minute by minute.

It’s so ridiculously easy to slap a spiritual bandaid on our pain, trying to move on and pretend everything is okay when inside we are unraveling. We pressure ourselves to put that mask on especially it seems in the church. And to put a Romans 8:28 (All things work together for good…) anecdote on our pain instead of just letting our reality match God’s truth without pretense.

It’s much easier to try and fake it and not deal with crushing realization of a life that isn’t working. Why do we do that as people who confess to love Jesus? Why? Honestly, it can drive me to insanity, and I know I have been a guilty party. It limits how I grieve, how I heal, how I relate, how I process and move through the pain.

I believe you can’t rush the process of healing.

I wanted to.

I wanted badly to move forward.

Others wanted me to, begged me to and I wanted with all my might to wake up and be all better right now, but I wasn’t! God gently reminded me AGAIN, Trust me, trust the process. I still want to, and yet there are remnants and pieces that are healing and I’ve come to terms, that it is okay. I can’t rush the process of what my heart is whispering to me.

This brilliant song by Natalie Grant reminded me today that the beauty of healing comes piece by piece. Not in one beautiful miraculous chunk, although I am sure God is quite capable of doing that. But I think he prefers to do it piece by piece and in His good, loving timing. Why? So I will trust him intimately with new depth in my soul.

I resonate with the line in the song, I am coming alive with joy and destiny, because you are restoring me piece by piece. That is why you can’t rush healing, it isn’t in our control, it comes in pieces. There is a purpose in the pain you and I have experienced and unless I submit to walking through it all the way piece by piece, I will miss the journey. I will miss Jesus making me fully whole and fully alive in Him.

Psalm 84:5 is one of my most treasured verses for the longest time. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!

When I was a kid I loved to jump in rain puddles. That is the point. There are no puddles, no pools without the rain, without the rainy, nasty thunder storm there is no pool of blessing. If you are wrestling today with where you are at and feel like it’s taking so long to get through the storm, remember as Natalie Grant sings in her song that he is restoring you piece by piece because that is God’s way of making us whole because He loves us
completely.

 

Do You Think They Will Notice?

photo 1 photo 2I have a tray that sits on top of my fridge. It’s a favorite of mine to use in the summer on the deck. It’s a stark black and white print. During the off season my husband uses it with a placemat on top when he is alone to eat his dinner and watch the news or sports in front of the TV. He’s converted my favorite tray into a portable TV tray. Remember those? (Only for those of us old enough when they were invented)

The other night when I opened the fridge it slightly fell over the opening of the fridge, so I had to catch it before it hit me squarely in the face.

I noticed some extra decorating on my favorite tray.

DUCT TAPE!!

Which was nicely covered up by the placemat. Did he think I wouldn’t notice? It had obviously been involved in some sort of an accident, although not sure how it happened, so now it was cracked and my sweet man tried to repair it. When I asked him (nicely of course) about it, (at least I tried to ask nicely) he said, “No, he wasn’t trying to keep it from me, but that it just happened” and he fixed it for me. SIGH…..How do you get mad at that answer? He was trying to fix it for me!

I found myself thinking as I removed the placemat how in my own life I try to cover up my brokenness and wounds sometimes.

I consider myself fairly authentic but there are times I want to camouflage with duct tape, hoping no one will notice.

It doesn’t work very well because the fact is, we are all broken.

We have scars, we have wounds, we have trauma, anxiety, hurts and difficult challenges. Such is life. I once heard a song years ago, Life is Hard, but God is Good. Yes, God is always good but the fact remains, life is just plain hard and that’s why we need Him.

This weekend I am heading out to engage with a few hundred women and hopefully bring them a message of hope and remind them that our influence is powerful and strong in Jesus. But I will have to lift off the placemat in places of my life and expose the brokenness and wounds in order to be an effective leader and teacher this weekend.

I am riveting with excitement this morning as I have prepared for weeks and months and believe this is my God assignment. But I have struggled this week in wanting to keep the placemat of my life on that tray and give a little too perfect appearance. I didn’t even notice it creeping in. It was subtle, it was sly, slithering in and around the message God has put on my heart from His Word. It crept in, my anxiety, insecurity and the lie that God can’t use me fully unless I appear to have it all together. No duct tape, just a lovely black and white tray to serve others with.

As I’m typing, I just realized, my favorite tray can’t serve anyone unless it is carried. It doesn’t serve itself.

Thank you Jesus, it is you who carries my imperfect life and offers the heart of your message to serve others.

Where do you need to have God carry you today? I am reminding both of us what the writer in 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 says when he was asking God to take away his weakness,

My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness. So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on. I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong.

So go ahead! Ask me to remove that placemat on the tray of my life, because I want to bless and serve others today and everyday and I believe you do too!

When the Waiting Room and Faith Collide

surgerywaitingroomA few weeks back I sat in the surgical waiting room at a hospital in San Diego waiting for news about my Dad.

I came prepared to wait.

I had my books and computer, a mini office of sorts.

As hour after hour went by, I watched as people waited, some chatting quietly, others watching mindless shows on the overhead television flatscreen and others staring numbly wondering what the next moments would bring for their loved ones. Then a doctor would come in searching for the family, usher them gently out into the hallway and deliver their news either good or bad. It was sobering to say the least.

We had just recently found out that my Dad had a large cancerous melanoma tumor and the initial report prepared us to expect the worst. So I waited for weeks before the surgery holding my breath and then in the waiting room while my Mom sat by my Dad’s side as they prepped him for surgery.

We were one of the those later in the day who received good news from the surgeon that gave us hope but we still had to wait for the pathology report. I think that wait was more difficult than waiting in the waiting room. Days went by and then on the plane ride home, after I couldn’t stand it any longer, I bought 30 minutes of internet to tap into the outside world.

I received the text. “100% clean, no cancer, no further treatment.”

I cried.

Weeks of holding my breath let loose a dam of pent up emotions.

It wasn’t what we were told by the surgeon at first. We were bracing ourselves for the worst. As I got off the plane and called my husband and my sister and friends telling them the good news, my words came half broken through relief of tears and emotion.

I realize as I write this that not everyone gets this kind of report after waiting and pounding the doors of heaven. My heart grieves with those that get slammed with hard news and it is frightening. As my Dad went into his surgery, he had said earlier that he knew he had lived a good long life and was ready, but he was still scared. Of course, who wouldn’t be! I pleaded with God and begged to have at least five more good years with the first man I have ever loved.

God answered. He always answers, maybe not in the way that we hope for. This time He answered and spared my Dad from further surgery and treatment. Why? I don’t know because life doesn’t always make sense and I don’t have the mind of God. I heard people say after we shared the good news, “God is so faithful and so good to have answered.” But then I think, He doesn’t change, He is always good and always faithful even when the outcome isn’t what we hope for.

One of the sweetest moments came the next day when my Dad shared with me how he had prayed and prayed for strength and courage. He let me know that the morning of the surgery he woke up and felt such an overwhelming presence like God was right next to Him, reassuring him he would be okay. I remember my Dad saying to me timidly, that I might find that weird. I told him, of course not! God can reveal Himself in anyway He chooses to us, even giving us a tangible physical sense of closeness when we are afraid.

My father has a pure faith and I believe that because of his faithfulness that God revealed Himself to him in this way because he truly asked for it with shaking faith, but he asked and made a choice to believe. 2 Samuel 22:26 says, To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless. Not matter the outcome that day, God showed Himself faithful. Either way, no matter the news, my Dad knew that He was not alone.

There are other areas of my life that I pound heaven’s door for, and I am still waiting for a hopeful answer. There are areas of silence and I am still pleading and waiting. That’s hard to grasp when life gets hard. But today, I choose to trust and believe that, The word of the LORD is right and true: he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4.

So I will keep pounding, I will keep asking, I will keep waiting on a God that doesn’t disappoint and who demonstrates Himself to ALWAYS be faithful.

Treasures in the Dirt

photoWARNING!

This is going to be a more frivolous post.

I believe that God even cares about the little things in life. Even silly things like my fav’s.

A few weeks ago I lost one of my best earrings. They were gifted to me by a friend, These earrings are simply designed in a scroll pattern made by Brighton. They were my ‘go to’ on a jean and casual day.

I sighed one morning when I couldn’t find the other one.

I ranted.

I pouted.

I yelled at myself because this is probably at least 3 earrings I have lost this year. And they are all my favorites!

How does this happen? I now have a special section in my organized case of ‘one-of-a-pair.’ I guess I could start a new trend and wear a mismatched set once in a while.

But then the unthinkable happened, while I was digging around in the dirt in my front yard, I spotted something silver, glimmering and shiny. It was the other earring that I had just lost a few weeks ago.

YIPPEE! I have absolutely NO idea how it landed in the dirt by my front walk. It was simply too far from the steps and the driveway. Did it fly out of my ear one day? Who knows! It’s unexplainable.

I did a happy dance with dirt flying from my gardening gloves.

I said thank you loud enough for my neighbor to hear and I didn’t care. I considered it a gift from God, my treasure in the dirt that day.

Is that silly? Wait, let me answer that. I don’t think so.

I’ve been burdened recently with all the chaos in the world and some of my own challenges facing me this week. Digging around in the dirt is cathartic for me, and Monday I decided I needed to get down and dirty. I had just bought some decorative kale to replace my raggy summer petunias.

When my hands are mucked up with the earth and my head is bowing low to the ground planting, weeding and digging, I can hear God whisper sweet words of calm to my heart. Maybe it’s the sense of touching creation and watching with wonder how a seed turns into beauty or finding a bird’s nest intricately constructed in one of my front pots. Never the less, I hear God in my garden.

Isaiah 45:3 reminds me that in all parts of life God will give me hidden treasures as I seek Him. I wasn’t expecting anything that day, but God gave me a little surprise to hold onto in the midst of my chaotic heart and remind me that He’s got this. I needed it desperately and am incredibly grateful that He loves me enough to tangibly show me.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3

 

 

Why I’m Learning to Breathe in 2015

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I’ve been holding my breath for the past several years.

I realize that tonight, just minutes away from the clock pushing us forward into 2015, that I haven’t been breathing very well, spiritually and emotionally for a long time.

It’s left me feeling a bit dry and depleted and looking pale figuratively speaking of course.  And as I’ve been contemplating what my ONE WORD for 2015 should be, I’ve decided, it will be BREATHE.

Breathing is an automatic response that we rarely think about.

Each breath is a reminder that we are alive.

Each breath is a sign that life moves forward whether we will it or not.

There is pain so tumultuous at times that it feels as though we can barely take a breath. And that certainly has been me holding my breath through the uncertainties and winding roads of life instead of releasing and resting. To my detriment, my melancholy temperament kicks in and it keeps me from breathing.

I’ve had moments when I’ve taken some deep breaths along the journey and exhaled, but for the most part the ruts and rough places on the path have caught my breath so much so that I forgot how to breathe. You know that feeling when something catches you by surprise and you take a sharp breath in and then let out a panicky scream? It’s a reaction with a rush of adrenaline, like having to come to a screeching stop because I’ve almost hit someone in a parking lot or watching a movie and a scary part jumps across the screen. But after an episode of holding your breath, we are supposed to keep breathing, not holding it in. Try it the next time and see how long it takes you to actually breathe normally again.

The past few years as I’ve found myself climbing up craggy hillsides and facing fierce storms, at times I’ve forgotten to breathe, I’ve just held it in until I’m blue. Yes, blue spiritually and emotionally from holding on too long. I am reluctant to say, but have to confess, it has set me back and eroded my ability to trust in the one who gives me breath. God. My Jesus, the one I’ve loved since I was a small child. Life has just seemed to pile up in heaps and I am out of practice exhaling and letting go consistently. I think another word for letting go is surrender. Ouch!

God reminded me of it this past summer when I spent time alone with him for several days. He whispered, “Let it go, so you can grow.” The “it” was the things I was trying to fix and was failing miserably because I forgot something very important. I am not God, it’s not my job to fix, only to be faithful and follow.

As I walk into a New Year in just a matter of minutes I am reminding myself of something I recently wrote in my book, Unlocked with a quote from C.S. Lewis, ‘Pain is God’s megaphone to the world.’ Through my pain, I know God wants to speak to me. It is in the exhalation that the hurt, wound, and problems get released.” In other words, when I hold my breath, I black out spiritually and emotionally. I need to breathe.

I was reflecting tonight on the past year and I had an epiphany; letting go and stop trying to fix everything is really learning how to breathe consistently and leaving the rest up to God. The irony of it is that this whole past year I’ve had in my bathroom this picture I’ve posted with the verse: You can be saved by returning to me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting me. Isaiah 30:15. I think it’s going to stay put for 2015.

I think I am starting to get it, and I am going to practice my breathing in 2015. So if you see me turning blue please remind me to   breathe!