Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Plan in Motion

I’ve been in a complete funk lately, y’all and it’s frustrating as all get out.

This move we made a few months back really through me for a loop and I feel like I’ve been upside down ever since. Off-kilter is probably a more accurate way to say that nothing seems to be right. 

Maybe it’s the fact that I know we’re living in limbo until next summer. Maybe it’s because most of our personal belongings are still in storage a few thousand miles away.  And maybe it has something to do with the fact that after months of pounding the pavement I am still out of work.

I’m sure it’s a combination of all of it however I don’t like this feeling of being unsettled and not making progress. I like knowing where I’m going and plotting out how to get from point A to B.  (absolutely drives The Hubs crazy! Poor guy!)

Nonetheless while I’ve been living in la-la limbo land, I’ve spent time evaluating my next step in life. You see, my life right now is one big upheaval in so many areas. Which on the one hand is completely mind boggling and on the other it’s rather freeing as it is giving me time to give careful consideration on what I’d like my next step to be.  To do a little day-dreaming if you will.

Enter my Vision Board. Now some of you may know them as dream boards but whatever you call them, they’re simply a fun way to take the items off of your bucket list and put them on a board so you can constantly be reminded of the things you’d like to do/see/accomplish in your life.

Here’s mine.

You’ll notice it’s a bit crazy looking at the moment and that’s because I’m in the cutting, clipping and organizing stage. I’ve broken the board into areas of personal health goals (like running a 5k and kayaking), professional goals (entering writing contests and finishing my book) as well as relationship goals with my family and friends.  You’ll also notice that I’ve got a handful of encouraging quotes, pictures of my mentors and bible verses tucked in to remind me that God is with me every step of the way.

I’m loving this HUGE reminder of what I can be working on while I wait for other areas of my life to change, like the job situation. The Vision Board is a constant reminder that there’s more to do, to enjoy and to develop as I progress through life and it’s not about simply waiting for that phone to ring. I can be productive in other areas of my life and accomplish other goals as I’m looking for work and talking with The Hubs about our goals for next summer.

Ya know what I love about this board so far? It’s working. Simply taking the time to define new goals, cut and clip out pictures has given me the courage to join a women’s running club which starts after the New Year. I’m excited but I’m also a bit scared, sports have never been my thing and frankly I have a very unsavory image of me running which I liken to a cat with socks on…horrible form and feet flying every which way…oh heaven help me!

Taking this first step towards a new goal has done wonders. I’m not so solely focused on why the phone isn’t ringing with prospective employers and it’s a gentle reminder to stay on track in other areas of my life like my writing.

So far, so good! Now, as they say, it’s back to the “drawing” Vision Board so I can finish this and post it above my desk.

How about you? Have you ever created a Vision or Dream Board? What were your results? I’d love to hear from you!

Until then,

Blessings and Best Wishes for a safe, healthy, prosperous and most adventurous 2016!
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Monday, December 7, 2015

God, I'm Running for Your Heart

Soul on Fire by Third Day has been playing in my head all day. In fact, as I type this I've got my headphones on, this song cranked up and on repeat!

I woke up this morning humming this tune and simply can't get the melody and the lyrics out of my mind. In fact, the good Lord gave me an image that I'll need to figure out how to put image to paper using my art supplies to bring it to life. Until then, I wanted to share the lyrics so we can give this much needed food some thought.

God, I'm running for Your heart
I'm running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I'm longing for Your ways
I'm waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Lord, restore the joy I had
I have wandered, bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You

God, I'm running for Your heart
I'm running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I'm longing for Your ways
I'm waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Lord, let me burn for You again
Let me return to You again
And Lord, let me burn for You again
And let me return to You again

God, I'm running for Your heart
I'm running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I'm longing for Your ways
I'm waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire

God, I'm running for Your heart
I'm running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
I wanna be
Till I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

This Christmas season has been hard for me to focus on Christ. I'm out of my element, with decorating habits being thrown to the wind because everything I've used in the past to decorate our home sits 2,000 miles away in a storage unit. I waver between wanting to buy things to replace everything sitting in storage and knowing that it's not the “stuff” that's important, but it's hard.

I find that I'm struggling with the need to find firm footing in this unknown territory. I want this place I'm in to feel like home when at every turn I am reminded that I'm not home. Where we live is temporary and I don't know when our lives will permit permanence.

The irony of what I've just typed isn't lost on me. I know physically this is only a temporary home and the “stuff” that I'm seeking to make me feel at home here has been stripped away for a reason. God is looking to create a permanent home in me.

Being uncomfortable creates an opportunity for me to focus more clearly on God than on the “stuff”. He's right. I know that. It's been at least 6 months since I really spent time with God, focusing on Him and His will for me. Sometimes it's like that in my life. I get busy, succumb to the responsibilities of life and lose my way with Him.

But in His gracious love for us all, we are never forgotten by Him. In fact, He seeks to draw us closer to Him every minute of the day.

For me, today was the day He so gently reminded me, through a song to come back to Him. Reminding me of the hunger and joy I have when He is my focus, my guiding light, my reason for the day.

I read the words of the song and my heart hurts at their truth. I need His joy for I am spiritually lost. I feel like I'm in the dark and I know the only way to see the light is to pick up my running shoes and run back to Him. He waits for me, for you.

There's a Christ-hunger that's been dampened by the trials of this life but if I were to be honest, I want so desperately to be in a place with God that supersedes everything else, a hunger that can only be overcome with His love. I know I've been distracted, my soul is empty and my days have lost their joy.

But there is hope.


Almighty, loving Father Above.

He will restore all that has been taken by this world. He will give us joy and His love. All we need to do is to run back to Him.

Until next time, I am off to recreate the image He gave me earlier in my art journal.

Blessings & Best wishes,

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

God's sense of humor

Last night I posted about trying to remember scripture in times of struggle and how, at the end of the day the good Lord finally  showed me the verse as I was looking for inspiration on writing a post.

Well guess what He put in my box this morning via Holley Gerth:

Whatever is lovely...think about such things. {Php. 4:8}

Don't you just love how God never gives up on us... I do! His timing is impeccable and at times can be rather funny. It's like He's gently tapping me on the shoulder and saying..."Now remember Amy, this is where I want you to focus. Trust me on this."

I have to chuckle because I know how much He loves us and never gives up on His children, even those who may be a little stubborn (speaking for myself here..) So when He gives me something to consider and then brings it up over and over, I trust it's for good reason. You see, He wants to mature us in His love so that with everyday we are given, we, through His love, begin to look more like His Son, Jesus.

Now, if you aren't familiar with Holley's site I highly encourage you to do so, she's such a sweet encourager. I guarantee once you read her blog posts you will take with you a wealth of information to help you along your walk with Christ while being reminded of how much He loves you!

As for little ol' me... I think I will take the hint and ponder on God's sweet words in Philippians 4:8 - "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

Until next time dear friends,
Blessings & best wishes,
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Lord, You've got this

I got up this morning in a sour mood. Several family conflicts were weighing me down and I couldn’t shake the huge gray emotional cloud hanging over my head just waiting to dump a dam full of rain on me.  

I tried pulling scripture to mind in order to gain control of my emotions and thoughts but I drew a blank. There was one verse in particular that I wanted to call to mind but all I could do is pray, “Ok Lord, I need your words and I think it has something about thinking good things. Can You help me out?”
Nothing.It was as if someone was taking an eraser to my brain.

My chalkboard-brain was blank.

Until something my husband (the Hubs) said to me during breakfast which made me realize the way I was thinking about things was simply, stinkin’ thinkin’. Which, if you’ve never heard the phrase means, thinking about everything in a negative light. The old half empty versus half full.
He was right, absolutely right. My stinkin’ thinkin’, born out of bad habits set forth in childhood and carried through into my adulthood were casting an ugly cloud of negativity on my entire day.

The Hubs suggested I flip the way I saw things and remember this particular situation that I was fretting over was indeed an answer to prayer.
Again he was right.

Less than a week prior I had been praying over this particular family situation and now, today, what was happening was the answer I’d been praying for.
So why did I take it negatively? Training in part I guess. But the more I asked myself why I had such stinkin’ thinkin’ it soon dawned on me that it was because the resolution hadn’t included me at all. Only God and those that I’d prayed over.

Blam! The realization hit me square between the eyes.
Had I really been praying for my benefit under the mask of praying for my loved ones? 

To some degree, yes.

I wanted to be included. I wanted a part of it.  I, I, I…notice the pattern? Yeah, me too. Not good.
Thankfully God saw it all, knew my struggle and stepped in and through the love of my husband was able to open my eyes to the real reason I was out of sorts.

I was ashamed. Instead of being thankful for a prayer being answered I was upset because God hadn’t included me in the resolution. Not a pretty truth.
Ya know folks, it’s hard to learn the tough stuff about ourselves. And yet, it’s in those moments when God clears the air and opens our hearts do we have the greatest opportunity to thank Him for the lessons He's trying to teach us while learning about His grace and love for us.

Once I stepped back, saw my error and took another look, I was able to really enjoy the blessing of an answered prayer. To know that God heard my prayers, answered them in a way which brought Him glory and would hopefully one day draw us all closer to Him, yeah, that’s what it’s all about.
I'm grateful for hard lessons and memory lapses, they teach me to rely on the good Lord every step of the way. And I’m thankful for the Hubs who isn’t afraid to be honest. It’s what I need.

As for the scripture I was trying to remember, God gave it to me in the most ironic way.
So this evening as I sat down to write, I flipped open to a dog-eared page in Liz Curtis Higgs’ book, It’s Good To Be Queen, hoping for a bit of inspiration. And right there on page 90 were the words I’d been racking my brain to remember:

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV
Oh how good God is! He is in the tiniest of details of our lives, leading us every step of the way back to Himself.

God loves you.

Until next time,
Blessings & best wishes,
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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Up to Something New

Having grown up in the Midwest I absolutely love, love, love the snow. Many will cringe at reading those words, preferring the sunshine and beach but not me.
I love being outside and so with this move north a fresh breath has brought to life one of my dreams, cross country skiing.

I’m starting at ground zero with not an ounce of equipment or knowledge so I headed to my local REI and started talking to the staff. What a wealth of information. They were able to connect me with local ski rental shops, proper clothing recommendations and signed me up for their next free class on how to get started in the sport.

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this opportunity. I’m nervous too. In the back of my head, I still have that “I hope I don’t make a fool of myself” thought process but man-oh-man if this sport turns out to be half as fun as I’m imagining it to be, those doubts and worries will be gone in a flash!

Thankfully, it looks as if the cross country ski season doesn’t really take shape until mid-to-late December-early-January in these parts, so I have time to do more research, get fitted with skis and build up my outerwear gear, not to mention spend a little more time at the gym!        

Lastly, I found a local ski club to get connected with other skiers and plan on attending the next meeting.

So this is it friends, I’m on my way. Out of my comfort zone and onto fulfilling a life wish.

But can I tell you a little secret? 

I'm a bit nervous. You see, I’m doing it alone. Well, relatively speaking. No one in my family really wants to ski so I’m going solo in this venture. As a rule of thumb I tend to stay close to home with people I know but with my family bowing out it means I’ll be connecting with strangers, trying something new and really stretching myself in a variety of ways.

That's okay. Life is about trying new things, growing and challenging yourself and I can’t wait. 

I’ll keep you posted as the season progresses.

Now it’s your turn. What are you trying? What is one thing you want to do?

Until next time,

Blessings & Best Wishes,
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The heart of a mother

Hello friends,

How many of you have heard of bible art journaling? I love it. Bible art journaling combines 3 things I enjoy most: writing or journaling if you will, art and the study of God's word.

The concept of Bible art journaling is to spend time with God, studying His word and when He speaks to you through your time of mediation, you take the grain of wisdom He is giving you and allow your creative hearts to then covert His word to art. There are no rules, no mandates, no special art supplies needed. Just use what you have.

Now I will tell you that the study bible I use to spend time reading and meditating with is not the bible I use to create my bible art simply because of the types of mediums I like to use, many of which are not translucent which would prevent me from continuing to study God's word. Simply put, if I can't see it, I can't study it. Therefore I do my bible art in a secondary bible or in my mixed media tablets.

As far as I'm concerned it's not about whether you create art in a bible, journal, scratch piece of paper or a mixed media tablet. It's about the time you spend with God, what He's speaking into your life and then how you translate that conversation using the art supplies available to you.

That being stated, I'd like to share an piece that came to me based on Exodus 28. In this chapter God talks about using the colors blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen to create the priestly robes for Aaron and his sons who were to be priests for the Lord and over Israel.

There were very specific directions given on how these garments were to be made and which colors to use.  God also required that the names of the 12 tribes of Israel be engraved in onyx stones and placed on the shoulders of his garments.

Israel's 12 tribes engraved and placed on the shoulders...

Whenever I think of anything being placed on my shoulders, I think of a heavy load. In fact, when we see someone who's having a really tough time we often say to them, "You look like you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders," don't we?

Imagine. Everything about Aaron's garments were a reminder of who he was serving, (our God), who he was (a priestly intercessor), and who he represented, (the 12 tribes of Israel).

The whole idea that Aaron was to never forget his goal. To intercede on behalf of the 12 tribes of Israel to the Lord Almighty.

Instantly I thought of us ladies.  Isn't this who we are and what we do? We've been chosen by God to intercede in the lives of the children before us. Now, I can't say that I've ever met a mother who doesn't think of her children every single second of the day. We carry our children in our hearts and minds wherever we go. And let's face it, I would bet that it's safe to say that everything we do generally revolves around them to some degree. If we're cleaning our homes, making dinner, working a full time job, volunteering, whatever it is, they're right there with us.

As mothers we always carry the weight and responsibility of our children with us. Ever before us, they're in our hearts, on our minds and sometimes the responsibility even feels like a weight on our shoulders. If they're struggling in school or at work or in their marriages. If they're at home sick, fighting for their lives on the battlefield or in a cancer unit,  it really doesn't matter, whatever they are doing, we are right there in the trenches with them.  Praying for them, providing for them, teaching, guiding...the list is endless.

Now it's true that motherhood brings with it just as many, if not more blessings than one could count, but the sheer responsibility is ever before us, on our shoulders as it were, reminding us that we have the privilege just as Aaron did to present our children before the Lord.

Now as I continued reading chapter 28, verse 28 stood out: "Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord." 

Bearing the names of the sons...over his heart...continual memorial before the Lord

These 3 sets of words stood out to me as I converted them to my life and into my simple piece of art: My sons, my heart, my God.

So here below is my bible art translation of God's word which places my sons names on my heart and uses the priestly colors of God as a reminder that they're interwoven specifically for a reason and that I, like Aaron have been given the blessing to intercede for my sons before our God.

I hope you will enjoy!

Tomorrow I'd like to share Part 2 of a The Heart of a Mother where I define the symbolic nature of the colors used in the priestly garments.

Until then, please know you are prayed for continually.

Blessings & best wishes,

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy New Year!!!

Gotcha, didn't I?

Sure it's October but that doesn't mean it's too early to start new resolutions.

So in my last post I told you about how we've finally moved and settled into our new home. As part of acclimating ourselves to our new city, the hubs and I have been taking one day each week to venture and this week we high-tailed it up to a small town just north of us to take in an antiques and craft show.

As we were  taking in all that the show had to offer,  I stepped into one booth filled to the brim with the cutest handmade snowmen. One in particular caught my eye. He was hanging on the wall just as cute as he could be with this little note stitched onto the front.

The second I saw it I laughed out loud and thought, "Hey, he's just like me...a little round!"

But a few minutes later I wasn't in such good spirits. You see, my own words hit home. I was round. I was a bit pudgy and it was all my fault.

Over the past few years I've let life and all of its commitments, responsibilities and stress get to me in such a way that it's pull me from being healthy to a bit pudgy. 

Not good.

So this is where I stop. 

Or as Bridget Jones would say, "Full stop!"

If I want to live to one day see my dreams come true, watch my children grow and hold my husband's hand until we're old and gray then I better take this seriously, otherwise I might as well write out my own obituary, kiss my dreams away and watch others enjoy life in ways that I'll never have the strength or vitality to do.

Now this whole thought of dropping weight and getting healthy got me to thinkin' about resolutions. You see I truly believe that God has brought me to this time and place for a reason. I'm not sure what that is exactly but I trust Him. I trust that He's taking me on a journey that will never resemble any other in my lifetime.

If I were honest I'd tell you that I'm super excited, a bit nervous and sometimes downright scared. We just never know what God has planned for us other than He promises it to be for good and for His glory.

Now there's a second resolution that's been on my mind. It's my writing. Deep down I've always wanted to be a published author in book length fiction.   But I've spent a lifetime believing lies, living in fear and hiding behind life's responsibilities as a way to not chase after my dream. But today, as with my health I call out, "Full Stop" and I start living out the dream God's put in my heart for so long.

We all know, a healthy lifestyle and a dedication to a dream takes a lot of hard work.

So am I up for the challenge or will I go to my grave a bit pudgy with my heart's desire still inside me?

If I were honest I'd probably tell you that I'm shakin' in my boots about all of it.

I've spent too many years making excuses in both areas and now here I am, looking at myself knowing the truth behind my eyes. I know what I've done and not done to get to this point.  

This is my point of accountability. I don't want to resemble a round snowman and I certainly don't want to keep my stories inside. From this moment on, I'm going to do my best to walk/run/write my way to the way God designed me.

But before I do, let me just take a second and commit my ways to the good Lord who so graciously gives me each day to take the next step.

Thank you Lord, You are so good. I commit my goals of dropping the weight and writing  "The End"on my story. A story You've placed in my heart.  I ask for Your hand to be on my life, strengthen my resolve to meet the challenges both of these areas will present and make way for the end results to bring You glory. 

And finally Lord if there is anyone out there in cyberspace reading this little prayer, with dreams big or small, with doubts that threaten to cripple or derail them from the plans You have for them, I would ask that you would put a "Full Stop" to the fear, excuses and reasons that have thwarted them thus far. I pray You would show them favor so that they too may one day sing Your praises. All of this I ask in Your Son's name, Jesus. Amen 

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans."
 ~Psalm 16:3  NIV

Until next time,

Blessings & Best wishes,  

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Back in the swing of things

Wow! It's been 5 months since my last posting.

5 busy, crazy, emotional months and what awaits me now is the unknown.

Can't say I'm too keen on the unknown. As I've shared before, change is not something I embrace easily so this huge change that's happened in our lives threatens to overwhelm me at times and at others I'm so in awe of what has happened it's hard to wrap my brain around all of it.

Has that ever happened to you? A situation, a circumstance that takes your breath away and leaves you completely dumbfounded?

It's not easy to process is it?

So what do you do when life happens pulls the rug out from under you?

I tend to shut down emotionally. Sort of like a turtle pulling into its shell. Occasionally I peek my head out and see if the waves are still crashing or if it's okay for me to stick my head out and really take a look around.

We've been here in the Northwest a few weeks and I'm doing my best to set up house, create a routine and navigate our new home town.  Each day has brought its challenges from finding the basics like grocery stores and post offices to trying to figure out just why exactly it takes going to 5 different stores to locate something as simple as a broom.   yes, it really took me going to 5 different stores...who knew?!

The biggest change has been my relationship with God. While we were in the throes of staging, selling, packing and moving the emotional side of this move really put a big gap between me and God. I simply could not process all of the emotions plus the sheer stress from getting everything done so quickly while shipping our sons off early to Washington, my husband constantly gone for business trips, our beloved family dog dying. It was really almost more than I could process so I shut down.

Most days it was a real struggle to say, "Thank you Lord" and mean it. If I were honest, I'd tell you, that when I did spend time with God I cried.  This move was heartbreaking for me and I had a hard time wanting to connect with God, the pain was that deep. 

Inside I knew God loved me and wouldn't be angry because I was struggling. I knew He was there although I wasn't. I knew He'd keep every promise He ever made. God's promises are what kept me going. The ones that prompted me continually to NOT be afraid, He would be there fighting my battles for me. To rest in knowing He was always there and that there wasn't anyone or anything (including a cross country move or my lack of ability to connect with Him at that moment) that could separate me from Him and vice versa.

And you know, it was enough for me to know that I could rest in Him. So much was already being asked of me, and all God kept asking me to do was to rest in Him.

He promised through His word to carry me through this one. And He did.  He was there. He met me when all I could was cry as I packed up the home where I'd raised my babies. He was there as I said good-bye to my friends at work , my neighbors and my parents. Yes, He was there.

And now, today, He is here helping me set up our new home, find that broom and to find my way back to Him.

My heart is forever grateful for His promises!

Blessings and best wishes to you my friends,

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Monday, May 25, 2015

When it's time to let go and move on...

As you can see I've been a bit out of pocket lately and here's why, there's been a little bit of this...

And a whole lotta this going on...

And let me tell ya I'm not liking it one bit. 

You see I'm a creature of habit. I like to dig my feet in and stay a while...a long while if I can help it but in the past few months God has made it abundantly clear through a series of situations that it's time.Time to pack it up and move. 

There are lots of emotions when a move is involved, sometimes there's excitement, anxiety, fear, joy, sadness, doubt and worry. For me this move boils down to one emotion - fear.

I don't want to do this move, I don't want to uproot, I don't want to start over. But, as God has shown me over and over, this move is not about what I want it is clearly what He wants. And if I'm really going to be obedient, step out in faith, this is my next step.

This all started about 7 months ago when our youngest son was accepted to play hockey on a northern team. Our family started talking about possibly moving back then but, one road block after another reared its ugly head and we put those thoughts to rest. 

That is until I took the Gideon study by Priscilla Shirer.  Man-oh-man did God even thump me over the head with that one! Week after week, the Holy Spirit kept prompting me to dig a little deeper to really see what God wanted me to do. The more I prayed the more He would lead me to another set of questions and answers until finally He made it clear, it was time to go.

Now I'd be lying if I said, I jumped right on board and agreed wholeheartedly with God's nudge to pack it up and go.

Not a chance!

Now don't get me wrong, I knew eventually we would leave here, after all, my husband and I wanted to downsize and do a little traveling, but that was a few years down the road after the boys left home. Who knew those years would become months and we'd be faced with making the tough decision to sell and follow God's prompting or to hold onto the here and now and make the most of it.

God soon squashed that last option. He was not leaving it up to us. We would move. Period. And if we ever thought of doubting God's hand in this move, He soon made it clear. Son #1 began making plans to move up north to finish college and shortly after he did, son#2 accepted a tender letter for hockey, where else? Up north, right along side of his brother.


Which left us with no other choice but to do as we were being led. 

Not easy I tell ya. 

In fact I wanted to throw a 2 year old's temper tantrum!

Now it's one thing to try to come to terms with a big move, and one you may not want to make (which is me) but try then to explain it to your friends and family. Not easy. It's not easy to tell those around you that you're moving but don't want to move. 

Boy-oh-boy does that ever open a can of worms!

Telling my parents was probably the worst of all, especially for my mom. You see my dad's in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and it's rapidly progressing. This move would in effect leave her without any of her children to help take care of dad. 

And yet, God is calling our family north.  It's hard to make sense of that one. We lived there 10 years ago, before He moved us here. So why is He moving us back when it would seem to have been much easier and much more cost effective to have left us right where we were?

I haven't a clue. Not a single one. 

But God is bigger than my understanding so this is where my faith comes in. 

As He reminds me in His words in Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."

Ok Lord, I admit, I just don't get it.

And at this time, I don't think I'm supposed to get it. I'm simply supposed to be obedient and He will take care of the rest.

And so I've been busy, painting, packing and staging. All in preparation to list our home for sale. 

God is in control. And each time I doubt, each time tears well up and threaten to spill, each time I start shaking in my boots from the overwhelming feelings of, "Lord, what in the world are You thinking?" I ask God to show me who He is and to calm my fears.

He does. And I am calm once again.

And although I certainly can not make heads or tails of this crazy situation, I know God is in control and He will get me through it all, even when it doesn't make sense! 

That's the thing about God. He is good. He loves us. And He will never, ever leave us.

Today, I hope you find that to be true about God. I hope that you will spend time with Him in His word but also just sharing your fears, worries, joys and concerns. He is with you, always. And He loves you oh-so-much!

Until next time when I am certain more boxes will be packed :)  may God bless you and keep you in His loving embrace!
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

God Among Us

1 Samuel 3:1-10 ~

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am. And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

I love this story for it is a rich a vivid story that really exemplifies God's love for us and His ultimate patience and willingness to call our name over and over so that we might better learn His voice and be able to respond when He calls us to Himself.

God comes into our lives and calls our name, and then waits. Time and time again, He will do this until we finally figure out, "Hey, that's me He's talking to...Oh! Yeah Lord, I'm right here."

But there is something that stuck out when I read this passage in verse 7, "Samuel did not yet know the Lord."

So here is the obvious question: How do we get to know God?

* Spend time with God. Talk to Him - study His word
 Like in any relationship, you must spend time with the one you love in order for the relationship to grow and become strong. Invest your time . Learn their voice, their likes, dislikes, to the degree that their voice is as familiar to you as your own. God is no different and prayer is how we communicate with Him, studying His word is how we get to know God. Therefore, in order to know God we must spend time with Him so that when He calls our name, we recognize immediately and respond.

* Seek out a godly mentor(s)
Next, if we do not yet know God the way we'd like to, seek out a godly mentor. A godly mentor is simply someone who's a little farther along in their walk with God. It doesn't mean they have all the answers but simply, they may be able to pray with you and point you in the right direction as you grow in your walk with God.

* Join a bible study or a prayer group
When my kids were little I joined MOPS and Moms in Touch, both were Christian groups designed to meet the needs of women in certain stages of their parenting levels. Now that my kids are older, I've joined a women's bible study group. I find I still need accountability and the friendship of women of all ages to pray with over my family and help lend a supportive hand in life's challenging situations when I'm too upset to hear God's voice.

* Keep a journal.
I love to write, so this one's a no-brainer for me.  In fact I keep 2 journals always close at hand. One is my "Gratitude Journal" where I write down all the things that I'm so thankful for each morning. Secondly, I keep a normal writing journal where I vent, pray or take notes of what He shares with me during my prayer time. As Christians wanting to grow in our faith sometimes we lose sight of where we've been, where we are and where we want to go. Journals are a great way to spell out prayer requests and then go back and see how God is working in your life and through other Christians and circumstances to communicate with you.

Above all else, keep in mind that God loves you and wants to talk with you and He will keep calling your name until you respond.

On that note, doesn't it just make your mind reel that the God of the Universe in His infinite love for us, stands among us, calls our name and waits until we respond. AMAZING!

So let today be the day that we hear His voice and respond, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Dear friend please know that I am praying for you today - I am praying that your relationship with God grows stronger and that you will go from being like Samuel who needed help recognizing God's voice to being more like Eli who knew circumstantially God's behavior and responded accordingly.

Until next time,
Blessings and Best Wishes,
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Will of God

This past Sunday as I listened to our pastor talk, he briefly mentioned "the will of God."

Now I've heard those words before but up until that moment I'd not given them much thought.  But as the good Lord would have it, "the will of God" caught my attention and prompted me to do a little research.

I referenced those words on the net and found a list of at least 20 different bible verses that included, "the will of God."

Now when God prompts me to dig a little deeper into His word, I take it seriously and figure He's brought this to my attention for a reason. This time was no different.

For the past few weeks I've been at a crossroads with a few challenges which have left me feeling frustrated, burned out and spiritually depleted.

So when the Spirit prompted me to do this research, little did I know just how much I needed to know, (mind, body and soul) the will of God. As I copied the bible references and began to locate them in the Word, I jotted every verse down into my journal. Now with the first few bible verses I silently agreed, "Yes Lord, I see what You're saying here. Good to know." It was almost as if I was saying to myself, "Yep, see, you knew that, but you'd forgotten it." 

But then I came across this gem: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Now this struck me right between the eyes. Immediately my confusion led to fussin' with God. "Seriously Lord? Right now? You want me, after the last month I've had to be joyous? You're kidding right? And you want me to give thanks? Are you kidding Lord? Remember yesterday? Remember the chat we had on my drive home from work? Ya know that one, with all the tears?

Trust me when I tell you that I fussed something fierce. Now if you're not familiar with fussin', let's just say it's like belly-achin', not really whining or complaining so much as it's more like sharing my point in a grumbling sort of way. 

At any rate, once I stopped the fussin' and refocused on the fact that He led me to this passage at this time despite everything that was upsetting me, I really stopped a moment. It says: Be joyous.

Now how am I to be joyous when most days I'm in survival mode and can't think straight?

I can't. And I told that to God. In fact, I fussed a little more with Him about the fact that His will was something I was struggling with simply because I couldn't. I'm that burned out. I have nothing left emotionally or spiritually to give,  so how could I possibly have the energy to be joyous?  "Sorry Lord, I can't be joyous so You're gonna have to do it for me."

In that second I knew I needed the good Lord's help in everyway. I needed His joy, His efforts, His help and His guidance because I had nothing left to give. If I was going to be anything, it was going to have to be all up to Him.

The only thing I had left in me was the ability to pray so I kept pouring out all of my concerns, my worries and hopes and my disappointments and then added these words, "Lord I need You to help me be joyous today. I need You Lord to help me to give thanks. Help me to find the good in some very difficult situations right now. Lord I'm tapped. I need Your joy today. I need Your help in seeing life differently, the way You would have me see it. And Lord, yes, I thank You for these challenges, because despite the fact that there are some life challenges at the moment, those challenges are pointing me back to You. So thank You Lord."

When I got back into my car later that day to head home it dawned on me that God had in fact, answered my prayers. I was in a much better mood than the one I started with, and I had felt His hand on my life the entire day. Yes it started out bumpy. Yes I felt frazzled and worn down to the point of exhaustion but God saw me through the entire day and by the time I clocked out, I felt good and I knew it was because of His love and strength. And as I made my way back home I recounted all that had transpired that day and I realized joy had been a part of my day in small, tangible ways that refreshed my soul.

God is so good. I am ever so thankful He hears our prayers. And He loves us so very much.

If you're having a tough day, week, month or whatever,  I want to take a moment and encourage you to turn it over to God. He loves you so very much and is waiting for you. And if you need a little extra help, please know that I've already prayed for you too!

Until next time,
Blessings & Best Wishes

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Unplugging from Isolation

If you watched me while I worked, spent time with my family or the ladies in my bible study group you would swear I was an extrovert.

Not so.

I’m a die-hard introvert. Or maybe I’m a chameleon. Either way, I’m not as outgoing or as open as I may present myself. Now it’s not that I’m lying to the world, it’s just that what you see is only a small part of who I am.

I’m a guarded person. There’s been way too much heartache in my life for me to fee comfortable truly letting my guard down and letting others really get to know me.

But God’s not done with me yet.

In fact, as I started thinking and praying about what direction and focus God would have me concentrate on this year; I was somewhat surprised when He didn’t actually give me a single word like He had in the past, like faith and joy. This time He gave me “relational living.”

(Sigh) Seriously Lord, I thought. What exactly am I not doing that You want me to focus on relational living?

Honestly I had no clue until a couple of weeks later while I was sitting in service and the pastor mentioned the words, “unplugging from isolation" did I even consider the correlation between relational living (purposefully reaching out to those God places in our lives versus hiding away from relationships in order to self-protect).

Now we all know that our world or at least part of it, lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and thinks technology in one way shape or another. And there’ve been plenty of studies that have shown that the more our society connects electronically the more we disengage from one another.

So at first I thought, “Not me Lord, you know I barely watch tv, my phone has more gadgets unused than used on it and frankly if I didn’t live with 3 techie’s in my life to fix the computer hiccups, I’d throw the stinker in the trash and move on.”

However, that’s not quite what He meant…
Instead God, as I have started figuring out, wanted to point out that I was isolating myself from others on purpose. Ouch!

Not me Lord...really?

My past is filled with deep heartaches and betrayals that began at an early age so I learned to protect myself by keeping a smile on my face, going through the motions and never really allowing myself to engage in any sort of real relationships, with the exception of my husband and children. Everyone else is kept at bay.

So to have God push me out of my comfort zone and try to connect with those He’s placed in my life, yep, this one’s gonna be a doozy and frankly I’m not so sure about any of this.

But here’s what ’m learning. When I’m obedient to what God is calling me to do, He is with me (and you) every step of the way, and we are never alone.

When I started thinking about my walk with Christ and how, if I am going to go deeper and not just have a surface relationship, and really allow God to work in and through my life, then, my first step is obedience.

But what does that look like? How do I unplug from isolation?

First I prayed about it and asked God to show me a way to step out in faith to do what He was asking.

The first thing He had me do was take something I love to do: cooking – and serve the ladies in my bible study.

Now this may seem pretty easy and the cooking part was. But what was hard was stepping out, offering something about myself (my cooking abilities) share it with the ladies in the group.

Now for someone like me that’s HUGE! I tend to skirt into class, take the bible study, offer a little small talk and then bolt once the video is over.

Not so now. For the past few weeks, I’ve brought something to share to my group. And God bless these sweet ladies, they’ve been gracious and wonderful.

I don’t like the attention. It scares me to death. Especially when someone lengthens the conversation beyond a “Thanks for bringing this, I skipped dinner to get the kids to church on time.”

But I’m doing it anyway. Shaking in my boots, scared someone will actually talk to me or rather, want to talk to me, but I’m doing it anyway.


God asked me to. And I love Him. And I want to grow and be changed by His love. Not only for myself but so that others in my life, however few they may be at the moment :) will also be touched by His love. So while this is hard and most times I want to run and hide I have a feeling that’s not gonna happen. I'm gonna keep stepping out in faith, one tiny step at a time and allow Him to change me.

There's a saying that goes something like this: You can’t serve two masters. Do I love and serve God even though unplugging from isolation is hard and very uncomfortable or do I serve myself and my protective nature and go back home having never reached out to try and make new friends and to grow beyond the pain?

I can’t do both...

I choose God. I choose to trust Him, knowing in advance He loves me more than to leave me where I am.

And I’m thankful.

What about you? Is God calling you to unplug from isolation? Are you hiding from a hurt or a pain that you don’t want to face? I’m right there with you!  But more importantly, God is with us. He will strengthen, lead and guide us through every difficult, challenging growth opportunity if we only turn to Him and ask Him to lead the way.

I’m game…are you?  

I'll be praying for you every step of the way.

Until next time,

Blessings & best wishes,
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