Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!

Have you ever been in a funk for no reason?  Or maybe you had a reason, but you let it consume your entire day and hijack your entire thought process for way too much time?

Well, you'll be happy to know - you're not the only one!

There was a man of God in the Bible, named Ezra.   To put it into a quick summation - Ezra was a leader of the Israelites, which was not an easy job.  In fact, at one point, the people were doing just the opposite of what God commanded they not do and Ezra couldn't take it anymore, so he tore his tunic and pulled out his hair and sat down, appalled for the entire afternoon. (Ezra 9:4)

Finally, after sitting there for way too long, Ezra rose from his "self-abasement" (which means self-degradation, low esteem, self-pity) and "fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed." (Ezra 9:5)

What took him so long?

Ezra was a man of God, but even he had one of those days where something didn't go the way he thought it should.  But instead of immediately taking it to the Lord, he wallowed for a while in "self-abasement".    In other words, he lowered himself, probably blaming himself, chastising himself, telling himself how much better he should have done things, when what he needed to do, was go directly into prayer and get on with his day.

In fact, in Ezra 10:1-4, we see that a man name Shecaniah comes to Ezra and says Hey! In spite of all of this, there is still hope!  Then he tells Ezra (v.4) to "Rise up; this matter is in your hands.  We will support you, so take courage and do it."  

Are you ever like this?  

Something doesn't go your way so you wallow, you moan, you berate yourself (or others) and stay in that funk for way too long - maybe even all day?

Well, take it from Ezra - get up and start praying!  Don't sit there all day until others have to come and shake you and remind you of all your blessings!

Just go to God in the first place, confess your worries and concerns and then move on with a better outlook and attitude.

It's really the only way to get out of that funk.

And, "ain't nobody got time for that!"

Happy Sunday my friends!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Today I Have Plans and Goals, But God Does Too

Every morning I step out onto my back porch and just spend a few minutes thanking God for his greatness.

This is aside from Bible Study and concentrated prayer time.  This is just me, wanting to look outside at all He's created and give thanks for allowing me to be a part of it all.

Today there is so much going through my mind; things like Fall decorating, bills, painting that needs to be done, places to go and things to do.

 But, I don't want to miss whatever God has for me.

You know, those unexpected things, like a friend who calls, or a 16 year old who needs extra help with math or a need that begs to be met.   Those are the sweet moments that can't be planned out in my Passion Planner or written on the kitchen calendar.   Those are the moments that are written in God's book, so they mean so much more than the things I busy myself with.

Yes, today I have plans and goals, but God does too.

"Lord, help me to listen closely today so I don't miss your voice or your plans.  Help me to stay so close, that when you whisper in my ear, I hear and obey."

Have a beautiful day my friends!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review - Mark Batterson's IF

Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors, so when I was asked to be a part of his launch team for his upcoming book, IF, I jumped at the opportunity!  Needless to say, I have not been disappointed!

According to Mark, there are 1,784 if's in the Bible.   That's a lot of uses of this little word, but big ideas come in little packages!

If you....then.... Or....If God...then....

Even though I'm only half way through this book, I've read some great thoughts and wanted to go ahead and share a few of them with you.

Here are some great quotes and messages from Mark.....

"All that stands between your current circumstances and your wildest dreams is one little if."

"It's the sins of omission that grieve the heart of our heavenly father most - the wouldas, couldas, shouldas.  Why?  Because no one knows our God-given potential like the God who gave it to us in the first place."

"Don't worry about what you  cannot control.  Don't even worry about doing something grand or glorious.  Just do what you know is right.  And make sure you do it for God."

"Most of us keep a to-do list, but it might be even more beneficial to start a 'stop-doing' list.  You need to curse the barren fig tree! Remember the tree that wasn't producing fruit?  Jesus cursed it! You have some barren fig trees in your life - things that are simply taking up time, taking up space.  It's hard to say no to anything, even those things that aren't working.  But that's how you make room for what if."

This last quote is my favorite so far.   It really made me stop and ask what I might be wasting time on, instead of investing in the better thing that God has for me.

What about you?

Are you watering a dead tree?

Are you constantly feeding something (with time and energy) that is already withered and fruitless?

Maybe it's time to let that tree go and move on to that fruitful thing that the Lord has been holding for you.

Think about the what ifs today.

"All that stands between your current circumstances and your wildest dreams is one little if."

You can pre-order Mark's book IF on Amazon now or wait for it's release on October 6th.  Either way, get yourself (and a friend) a copy of this book!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Banished, but Rescued

"Even if you have been banished 
to the most distant land under the heavens,
from there the Lord your God will gather you
and bring you back."
Deuteronomy 30:4

As I read the verse, I kept going over the word banished.  To be banished reminded me of knights and castles and damsels in distress.   Visions of a beautiful princess being rescued by her gallant hero came to mind.  Someone being banished from the land, their home, and everything they love, being stripped from them as punishment.

But then.....I started thinking about my own life.  I've never officially been banished from a place or told to leave, but I've banished myself from plenty.

I've banished myself from clothes and hairstyles - too focused on the opinions of others.
I've banished myself from feeling worthy - too focused on my own faults and shortcomings.
I've banished myself from having fun - too focused on staying the course.
I've banished myself from friendships that were too hard to maintain.
I've banished myself from opportunities that were a little too frightening.

I've banished myself to the corner, too unworthy to face my savior, thinking "How many times must he rescue me from the same sin or weakness?"

I've banished myself from my family, ashamed of harsh words and impatient rants. 

All in all, I've banished myself from receiving love and acceptance, because I couldn't believe that I deserved them.

All in all, I've needed rescuing from myself more than anyone else.

Can you relate?

But.....I'm so thankful for my rescuer!

I'm so thankful for the ONE who sees where I am and knows that I don't need to remain there.

The ONE who comes to gather me and take me home.

The ONE who says my sins are as far as the East is from the West.

The ONE who whispers in my ear, "You are no longer banished!" and follows it up with "You are forgiven, loved, and free!"

Oh, how thankful I am for Jesus!

For he is truly the ONE who rescues us.

If you are feeling banished today and need to be rescued and gathered back into the fold, call on HIM - the ONE who sees you and knows where you are.

No place is ever too far to be reached by Him!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Four Generations

I can't believe I've only been a grandmother for two weeks!  It actually feels like at least a month!

Little Emmalyn has spent her first two weeks of life entertaining all kinds of visitors and those visits have resulted in lots of meals and lots of love for her mommy and daddy, as well.   Needless to say, they are truly blessed with people that love them!

One such visitor was my mom and Emmy's great grandmother, Nanny.   Actually, we call her Great Granny Nanny!   She drove 5 hours to come have at least one hold of baby Emmy and her wish came true last night.

Emmy was wide awake and I captured this sweet picture of her and her great grandmother.  Nanny was talking softly to Emmy and she was listening intently.    I know my mom will treasure this moment for a long time.

My mom also had a goal of taking a "Four Generation" picture of me, herself, Ted and Emmy and we got that too last night.

I'm so glad my mom and Emmy were able to finally meet and have some moments together.

I know what it feels like, as a mom, to watch Ted step up into that role as a father.   I can only imagine what it feels like for my mom to watch Ted as a father and now me as a grandmother.  

By the look on her face, I'd say she's a pretty happy and proud Great Granny Nanny, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Let Go of Perfect!

Does anyone struggle with perfectionism?  No?  Ok, then maybe this post isn't necessarily for you, but maybe you know someone who does struggle with it, and you could pass this on to them (wink, wink).

I've been reading You're Loved No Matter What (by Holley Gerth, one of my all-time favorite authors) and she has some amazing wisdom about laying down the need to be perfect.

The funny thing about perfectionism is that sometimes you're not even aware that you live this way.  Sometimes it has to be pointed out to you, usually by someone else that has your best interest at heart or maybe even by someone who is fed up with trying to please you.  (Ouch, that's harsh!)

But, it's true.

Perfectionists can torture those around them because their expectations can never be met. They torture themselves as well, because even they can't live up to their own expectations.   How crazy is all of that?

Holley brings up a great point, saying......

"Perfectionism and guilt are best friends."

Yes!  So true!

If you're a perfectionist, then you carry guilt.  They always go hand in hand.

You feel guilty that your attempt at something wasn't carried out with perfection.  Guilt that you let someone down.  Guilt that you don't look a certain way or don't perform to a higher standard.

Really, the guilt never ends, because you are a harsh judge of yourself and you never meet your own expectations.   And, rarely can anyone else.

You may only be a perfectionist in certain areas, but no matter, it still affects those around you.  

You may be good at only setting high expectations for yourself, but no matter, it still affects those around you.

Maybe your need to be perfect comes from the need to be like someone else, but that is also unhealthy, because you should love who you are and embrace that God made you unique.

The truth is, perfectionism is not healthy.

Your house may be cleaner, your clothes more expensive, your hair right in place, but your heart is aching because you're living a lie.

Because reality is, there is only one who was and is and will forever be perfect.....

His name is Jesus and he died so you wouldn't have to be. 

Let go of your need to be perfect today and say goodbye to her friend guilt.

Neither one is welcome, because today is all about grace!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The World May Not Care - But I Do

The last few weeks have honestly felt like a slow moving train.  I've hopped on and off and on again - here, there, and back and yet it seems like, in some respects, I've just stood still, not going anywhere.

In my mind I've been writing and creating and yet, when it comes to putting it on paper, it just seems futile.  Sometimes life has a way of making me feel like my words aren't important.  Like no one has time to hear what I have to say.   But, the truth is, it still needs to be said.   If not for anyone else, then for myself.

I've been learning to take time to refuel.  I've said "no" to some things and instead, allowed myself the freedom to stay still for awhile and feed my own soul for a few minutes.

In fact, it's during these moments of refueling that I reclaim my voice or at least the need for my voice.  

No, the world may not care that I bought myself something pretty....just because.  But I do.

The world may not be interested to know that David brought me a rose from outside, on the very day that I needed him to show me some love and kindness.   But I do.

And, the world most likely doesn't care that I baked a Chicken Pot Pie on that very same day, when all I really felt like doing was curling up on the couch with a blanket and a book.   But I do.

Can you relate?

No, the world doesn't really care, but that doesn't mean that your voice and your life and your seemingly, uninteresting days are unimportant.

They are important!  It's all the little things that make up who you are - your heart, your voice, your life - and though all the world may seem indifferent......I care and I know you do too.

Share your life with someone today - even the parts that seem unimportant.

***Linking up today with some wonderful bloggers over at Coffee For Your Heart (Click on link or Coffee for Your Heart sidebar button)***

Saturday, September 19, 2015

MawMaw's Coffee Can of Colors

 Years ago, in an old farmhouse, kind of like the one I live in now, there was an old coffee can full of crayons, tucked inside a bottom kitchen cabinet.

Underneath the old crayon-filled coffee can was a stack of coloring books that had pages colored here and there.

As I would come through the old screen door, into the kitchen, I would head straight to that kitchen cabinet and pull out that coffee can and coloring books and get to work on another page.

I always felt special, knowing those coloring tools were tucked inside that cabinet.  I'm not sure why I thought I was the only one using them, because my MawMaw had a good, healthy number of grandchildren back then.   But, I guess in my young mind, I felt like she was saving them just for me.

Now I live in an old farmhouse, not unlike my MawMaw's, and I'm a grandmother now, which still feels new to say.

But, I'm looking around and things are starting to look different - like I'm seeing them with new eyes.
The dog toys that will most likely be a temptation as little Emmy starts crawling.  The TV remotes whose whereabouts will become a mystery and the guitars that will all have to be put away.

But, there's one special drawer that will be all hers, when she's old enough, and that's the drawer that will hold the coffee can full of crayons and a stack of coloring books, just for her.

And, when she walks into the house, through the squeaky screen door, she'll know right where to go.....straight to Millie's drawer that holds her coloring tools.

I'm looking forward to sharing this tradition and so many more with you, Emmy!  Until then....don't grow too fast.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

He's Just Good Like That

Sometimes, when you think about the way the Lord does things, you just have to shake your head.  Only He can orchestrate little puzzle pieces of life into a great big picture of perfect.

And, surprisingly, I'm not referring to this little bundle of perfection, although she is just that, but all the other circumstances surrounding my kids right now.

For the past year they have been living an hour away.   That doesn't sound like much, until you bring a baby into the picture, tired mommy and daddy, new job, hungry baby, and emotional pockets that only family can fill.

But, so true to God's character, he began a good work several months back and brought them home just in time, because he knew this is where they would need to be.    He's just really good like that.

When God begins a work and a transition in your life, you begin to feel something.  Usually you aren't even sure what it is, but it feels like discontent and a change and almost like a magnet that is drawing you in a direction that you aren't even sure of.   You can tell it's coming, but you honestly don't know what or where or how all the pieces will fit together.

Little by little, the Lord opens your eyes to why you need to go, and so starts the journey of following his lead and trusting that he knows what he's doing.

One by one, circumstances and opportunities and blessings start to unfold, and before you realize it, you're in a new place, looking back and shaking your head that the Lord of the entire world knew what you needed.   He's just good like that.

And so it was, with my kids.

First it was a stirring in their hearts.
Then it was the blessing of a house.
Then it was an old friend and a new opportunity.
Then the little bundle and a whole lot of friends and family.

Only God could have orchestrated every little piece to fit perfectly, as they have.

My heart is so thankful that God brought them home where they are surrounded by friends and family.  Where all their needs can be met and their hearts can be nurtured.

Only God could do all of that in perfect order.

I guess He's just good like that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Little Package Has Finally Arrived!

The past 9 months have seemed like forever, but the wait is over!  Emmalyn James is finally here and the entire family is officially, madly, in LOVE!

Emmy made her appearance on 9/11, which brings great news to a day otherwise marked with sadness.   But nothing about her brings sadness.  She is amazing and beautiful, with a sweet, sweet spirit.

Alex did such an amazing job during the entire 13 hours of waiting and labor and she was up and getting herself ready the next day.   Ted was strong and brave and everything Alex needed him to be during that time.  I'm so proud of them!  They are officially my new superheroes!

Emmy is sweet and only fussy when she's hungry.  At the risk of sounding like a gushing grandparent.....she's basically flawless and perfect.....of course!

Even Uncle Collin is mesmerized by her!

And, of course, she has already turned her PawPaw into a big pile of mush.   That was to be expected, though, right?

So, that explains the absence since the last post.  Everyone is tired beyond belief (especially Ted and Alex) and working on minimum brain function.    Today might be the first day since last Friday that I feel almost normal.

But, normal has all changed in the best possible way!

Now normal is knowing that there is a new little bundle just down the road and so many other things seem non-important compared to that.

Life has a way of putting things into perspective, doesn't it?

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
(Psalm 139:13-14)