Mom Moves Home

In the past 4 months, I would bet most of you have experienced change. LOTS. OF. CHANGE.

Prior to COVID my husband and I were anticipating a soon-to-be empty nest. June was our deadline to have both of our adult sons out of the home and on their own.

Until the whole world was flipped upside down and our old ways of living turned into a “new norm.”

Not ones who get too upset by change we figured, what’s a few more months? We’ve come this far with the boys at home, what’s a little more time?

But let me be real here. We were disappointed.

Now don’t get me wrong, we love our boys. Like many of you, outside of breaking the law or something like bungee jumping off a bridge, The Hubs and I would do anything for them.

But when our plans for empty nesting flew out the window, we had to seriously take a step back and reevaluate the next timeline. How long would they be staying? When would they leaving? With COVID always looming over our daily lives, would they be leaving?

Eventually our disappointment washed away, we began accepting that we don’t know what tomorrow brings. We can plan and prepare but until the opportunity to actually help our sons move out, we’re all in a status quo.

This was our lives until, 2 months ago, our lives changed yet again. Expectations of a future tomorrow where the it’ll just be me and The Hubs once again flew out the window faster than a fly being chased by a swatter.

Mom moved home.

Yep. You read that right.

Mom moved home.

Dad passed away almost 2 years ago and the grief for mom is overwhelming. She feels lost. No one and no where feels like home. Which is understandable because let’s face it, you can’t live 50+ years with a spouse and expect to go on living as if nothing’s changed the moment the funeral is over.

Grief, loss and loneliness come in waves. They crash into her day like an unexpected tsunami leaving emotional debris and destruction in its wake.

So when the call came that she was thinking she’d like to come up for the summer, I had to be really honest, like, look Ma, we’re at capacity, but if you want to jump in, we’re here to catch you.

Jump she did.

Which basically equates to 5 humans and 4 dogs under 1 roof.

Yikes!

So how are we coping-slash-surviving?

Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace upon more grace, upon more grace, grace, grace, grace and finally…grace!

Yep. All from the good Lord above.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

God’s grace. My weakness. His perfect sufficiency.

We’ve all come to reside under one roof. Seeking rest and healing from all of our own individual trials. We are broken people with disappointments, hurt, anger, frustration and now COVID. Seriously…if my house isn’t the next Instapot ready to explode I’m not sure what is.

And yet…

God is able. With lots of prayers, God is able to give grace and understanding on a moment to moment basis.

Let’s be real here. It’s not all roses and candy. There are testy moments because of unspoken expectations, misunderstandings when we stop being the poster child of “we’ve got it all under control” and fight our human nature to simply explode on one another.

Prayers are my lifeline.

It’s not easy. Trust me. There are moments when I’m caught in the crossfire of a rebellious adult child and my mother giving me the “you-oughta-do -something-right-this-minute” look.

Yes, there are moments when my sanity is tested. That’s when I walk away. Clearer heads prevail. Emotions, tend to get me in trouble and make matters worse.

God is able.

He alone is abundantly capable to heal our damaged lives while giving us the tools to gracefully co-exist in a multi-generational home.

When we as believers sit at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to lead us in this new life we can find rest, strength, wisdom, grace and every tool necessary to walk with the grace of Christ in the challenges we face.

Yes it’s possible.

No it’s not easy.

It’s a bumpy ride. This is life and family. Not the Instagram version. I’m talking about the dark side. Unspoken hopes. Old hurts resurfacing. Bad habits driving everyone bonkers. Tears, arguments, curse words. All of it.

Maybe you’re like us. Kids and parents are knocking on your door and you’re watching your freedom and empty-nest expectations evaporate right before your eyes and you’re wondering if you’ll ever have quiet again. Or maybe you’re the ones forced to go back home and it feels like failure.

What then?

Pray. In every conversation. In every moment, seek His wisdom and then do what He asks you to do. Sometimes He’ll take you out of your comfort zone to engage in challenging conversations. Sometimes the Lord may ask you to step out and pray openly for your family at the evening meal which may start a firestorm.

Good.

Just remember, God created families. He loves your family and wants your home to be filled with love, grace, joy and peace so that you may be the example of all the goodness of God to a waiting world that destroys and tears apart families.

I hope this encourages you today to remember God’s goodness in every part of your life, whether it is empty-nesting, feeling the squeeze of family members moving in or if you’re the one moving home.

May you take time to honor the Lord and thank Him for it all.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise!” ~ Psalm 111:10

Until next time,
Blessings and best wishes,

Who Are You?

Yesterday I was listening to Margaret Feinberg’s podcast, The Joycast session called “Get Out of Your Head” with Jennie Allen.

During the podcast Jennie Allen shares that she believes there are 3 core lies that we as humans tend to believe about ourselves at any given time:

  • I am unlovable
  • I am worthless
  • I am helpless

This really got me to thinking about my own life as a child and now as an adult and how those 3 little lies which carry so much weight and direct so many actions and have the ability to shape everyday decisions.

I mulled over what I heard in the podcast and really started asking myself, is this true? Do I navigate life from a place of a lie? My brain argued with my heart…yes…no…yes…maybe. Ultimately, the truth hit me hard.

Sometimes.

Being human is hard. Let’s face it. Years of old tapes, bad relationships and decisions compound our daily walk. And as always, satan is always whispering garbage in our ears.

It’s exhausting and downright defeating.

But I reasoned that since there’s at least a chance that I live my life from one of those 3 lies at any given time, and God warns us that satan does nothing but seek to kill and destroy our lives, then the best way to combat a lie is with God’s truth.

I needed to get to the bottom of the matter, if the world and satan constantly try to get me to believe that I am unlovable, unworthy or helpless, I had to ask “Lord, what is my truth?”

“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.” ~John 3:16

Seriously? I am loved that much? To have the Almighty Father, Maker of heaven and earth, sacrifice His Son, so that I might live?

Now that’s some serious love. And I must be worthy of that love.

Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who God is.

Mind-blowing! Unfathomably believable. I can scarcely wrap my brain around the truth of it all. God. In His infinite love for you and I gave us His Son’s life for ours so that we are able to commune with Him, fulfill our purpose with Him and sing His praises.

Oh the love of it all!

To think that I am loved that much, breaks me and absolutely crushes every. single. lie.

God says:

We are loved by the Father.

We are so precious and valuable to Him that no one and no thing can take us from Him.

And finally, ALL things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.

So take that, lies!

God has the first, last and every single word about our lives and nothing is farther from the lies than God’s truth!

Let that sink deep into your soul. Let the truth of God’s word cleanse every single lie from your life so you may begin again under the truth of God’s love for you. Then take the next step and walk in His purpose and truth for your life.

Until next time,

Really Lord…Tomato Plants?

I’d like to tell you about the goodness of God through the eyes of a newbie gardener.

Like many of you, because of the world we currently live in, I am planting a vegetable garden.

However, with thousands of folks trying to better prepare their pantries in case of a future rebound, plant starts are a bit scarce in these parts, even seeds are flying off the shelves.

But here’s the truth about God. He knows it all before anything ever happens in this world.

Including COVID.

I’m sure we all the felt a bit of anxiety with the news pounding out minute by minute fear. Stores shelves bare while there were mouths to feed.

As if COVID 19 wasn’t enough of a stressor in our lives, our adult sons trickled back home, bringing with them their own set of disappointments, fears and hungry bellies.

But by God’s grace our family saw the Lord’s incredible provision over and over.

Our family is in constant need of grace. We stumble in our walk with the Lord, sometimes falling completely flat on our face.

I say this to preface the story I’m about to share because I want to give God the glory for the blessings He chose to bestow on our little family. We didn’t deserve them. We didn’t earn them and we certainly needed His grace. For His love and provisions, we are changed and are forever grateful for these answered prayers that came in the shape of tomato plants.

Our small apartment did not lend itself to a garden plot so I turned to our neighborhood P-patch for gardening options. Honestly I didn’t hold out much hope of getting a garden plot because the growing season had already started and everything, I mean every plant start, seed packet was gone! Not a single green stem was to be found!

But… I prayed anyway, asking God to open up just 1 little garden spot.

How did He answer? The good Lord blessed us with 2!

Great! But what was I going to plant? Shelves were bare.

Seriously?! All I wanted were the staples: potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and maybe a zucchini plant.

I looked for weeks online and in every store, garden center and wholesaler in the area and couldn’t find anything, anywhere! I was about to give up when on a fluke, I walked into our local Co-Op and there, right by the front door were bushels of potato slips on sale! Amazing!

Trust me when I say, those little slips were in the ground immediately! But what about the other veggies I had hoped to plant; green beans, onions and tomatoes?

I prayed again. I figured “why not?” God heard my prayer about the potato slips, certainly He could hear my prayers for those too, right?

“Lord, can you please help? I’m guessing, 10 Roma plants will hopefully give us enough to can and get on our pantry shelves. Can you help Lord, there’s nothing anywhere.”

I waited.

Two weeks later, one of my residents family members ( I work in senior health care) stopped by the building to ask if anyone wanted tomato starts.

I jumped with glee!

“Absolutely I do!” I told her. A few days later, she stopped by with 2 huge crates full of tomato starts for our residents to plant in the community garden and for anyone else who wanted them.

Want to guess how many I was gifted?

Yep, 10!

Wanna take a guess as to which type?

Yep, Roma’s!

I tell y’all, God is so good and God does good.

Even when we are freaking out because an invisible giant hits our lives and threatens our very health and well-being. God is still good. Even down to tomatoes.

There isn’t anything God doesn’t already know about us and our hearts. He’s just waiting to hear from us.

What have I learned?

I needed to be more like the ants. Proverbs 6:6-11 tells us this,6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like being called a sluggard. But I was. I am.

I had taken for granted all of the conveniences around me, grocery stores open 24/7, restaurants at my disposal, every amenity I needed was close at hand.and I had gotten lazy because of the misnomer that I had a safety net for those “just in case” moments.

But thanks to COVID I realized just how much of a sluggard I really was!

I’ll admit, our family wasn’t prepared for the long-term emergency that caused world wide panic and depletion of everyday living supplies.

Through it all, God is teaching me that He provides. He provides the security, provisions, health, joy, peace and even tomatoes if only we would take the time to seek Him. Maybe you were like me, scared that the reality of being unprepared would directly impact the well-being of your family. It did impact us on a very real level which has caused The Hubs and I to make changes in our lives on many levels. First of which is our walk with the Lord.

Ya know, I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I’ve loved God from the beginning, even before I started going to church. But what this pandemic has shown me, is that maybe it wasn’t only our cupboards that were bare.

My heart and walk with Christ were also lacking. Sure I read my bible and went to church regularly, but did I actually put what I was being taught into action on a daily basis and not just during emergencies?

I’m ashamed to admit that the answer was a no, I was a spiritual sluggard. Those tough questions helped me to see my walk with Christ differently. I needed to be like the ants not only in my physical life but more importantly in my walk with God. I needed to ask myself and lay my heart open for Christ to bring to light where there was an opportunity for growth.

How about you? What is it that you need to share with the Lord? What is it that wells up fear and discord in your heart? Is it a feeling of anxiety, worry, lacking?

Friend, whatever it is, let me encourage you to God and He will provide. Maybe it’ll be in the form of the next meal, the next bill paid or maybe the next step in your walk. Whatever it is that is weighing on you I want to encourage you to take some time alone with the Lord. He is faithful to hear us in small ways and in large, physical and spiritual.

May you find God to be an abundant provider and your life filled to overflowing with His blessings and love.

Until next time,

Blessings & best wishes,

Center Of Your Life

We lived in Oklahoma for a dozen years. I absolutely loved that state!

The people were welcoming. The down home food made me feel like my grandma made it and the landscape was beautiful in its own right. Gentle rolling hills. Rocky crags to hike and climb and let’s not forget the weather.

For a mid-western born and raised gal, I loved the 4 seasons Oklahoma’s weather blasted at us. Yes, blasted. Nothing came at you sweet and easy. In Oklahoma, we’d tease, “You better hold on, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!” When storm fronts would roll in.

The rain came down in sheets and pelt your windshield so hard, you’d have to pull over otherwise you’d risk hitting something, a car, a cement barrier, telephone pole, cattle. Yes, cattle. Trust me on this one.

And oh! The hail. Ugh! Don’t ever ask my husband about the damage done to his car one night when tornado warnings flashed in the area and he drove across town to pick up our youngest who was finishing a hockey practice. Let’s just say, after the golf ball sized hail pummeled his car for the 6 mile round trip to and from the hockey rink, his car looked like we’d drug it out of a junk yard! I think that was the first time I’ve seen a grown man cry!

Let’s not forget the winds. Oh mercy me! When the winds would whip across the plains my mom would joke that “they’d take your head off if you didn’t hold tight.” Seriously, 60-70mph winds would tear through the area causing flag poles to become spikes crashing through trees.

All this to say, that Oklahoma weather isn’t for the weak. We had crazy hot melt-your-brains summer temps. In the 100’s y’all! 100+’s!! One summer I thought we were all gonna start growing scales and turn into lizards, it got so hot! No kidding!

Needless to say, you’ve got to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Lots of protection, forethought, undercover parking is a must and plenty of air conditioning and heated seating, because yes, we had ice storms too!

I bring all of this up because this morning as I was reading Proverbs 7:2 ” Keep my commands and live, and guard my instructions as you would the pupil of your eye.”

I thought about living in Oklahoma’s harsh weather. We all know what it feels like to get an eyelash, or a piece of dust in our eye. But what if a sharp object comes flying at your eye during a stormy season, then what? What do we do to protect our sight?

See the analogy I thought of is that there are stormy seasons in our lives. Times when chaos is whipping through our lives. What then? How do we guard our thoughts, minds and hearts when life is unexpectedly painful?

I think this small verse reminds me to always be on guard.

I use to joke that the weather channel was a big deal in Oklahoma. Well it is! And so is the channel of our hearts. We need to always stay tuned to God’s word in preparation for whatever comes our way. Just like we keep a pair of sunglasses or a rain jacket or a snow shovel handy “just in case” its needed.

Preparation is key. We never know when life will take a turn for the worse. When a storm will show up, with winds of heartache shooting their painful debris into our lives.

God call us to…“keep His commands, live and guard His instructions.”

How do we make that happen in our lives? Oh that’s easy sisters. Spend time with God. In His Word. Daily. Hourly. Moment-by-moment. Make Christ your priority over everything else in your life.

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. That’s opposite of what we’re told. Society tells us that we’re to be #1. Do our own thing. Make our own decisions. But how many times can you admit that a storm has whipped through your life and caught you completely unprepared and you crumbled? It’s happened to me more times than I care to admit.

But you see, God says just the opposite of society. God calls us to Himself. He invites us to spend time with Him, to know Him and to love Him with our hearts, souls and minds.

In doing so, it is God’s guarantee that when the storms of life hit our lives, and they will…we will be fully prepared. We won’t be left out in the cold, the hail, the pelting rain, the heat of our lives, alone. God is with us.

So dress accordingly ladies, there are bound to be stormy days ahead. Grab your bible, talk to God, share your heart and know the good Lord will see you through every single storm.

I’m praying for you sister. As always,

Blessings & best wishes,

A Place For Us

Last week during worship we sang Hillsong’s “Who You Say I Am”.

As my heart settled into worship the words washed over me until the following verse caught my attention, “In my Father’s house there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes I am.”

For most of my life I’ve lived under the cloud of not being enough, never fitting in and always living life on the outside. I’ve lived under the shroud of lies that has permeated my life like a slow release poison, tainting every area of my life.

The proverbial black sheep.

But the more I dig into my relationship with God, I can call a lie a lie.

God has a place for me. I have and always will have a place in His home.

Full acceptance.

How often does that happen in our lives?

I know my husband and kids love me. But I also I know that as much as I feel the same way about my family, I know despite my best intentions I hurt and disappoint them. Not so with God.

I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations or demands.

With God, I can simply be me.

There’s no striving, working hard for approval or tip-toeing around Him because I’ve made a mistake.

I am enough, just as I am. The Lord made me, knew me before I was ever born and His Son Jesus died for the love of me.

There’s a place for me, in my Father’s house.

I love those words of promise. They help to heal the brokenness left behind by my own earthly father.

Yes, I loved my earthly father, I’ve shared in earlier stories that I was a daddy’s girl. But for as much as I loved him, too often I was met with words of criticism. Words that left no doubt that I’d disappointed him in some way.

For instance, I remember on my high school graduation night, I was so excited. I had worked hard, won many achievements and was thrilled to be walking across the stage to grab my diploma and embrace the next step in my future. I was so proud.

I turned to my dad in my excitement and said, “I can’t wait to walk across that stage!”

My dad’s response, with a stoic look on his face was, “Ya know, if you’d only worked harder you could’ve been valedictorian.”

I was devastated.

I had studied so hard in my pre-med classes, struggled just to get a passing grade in math class and worked tirelessly to earn seating in the top 3% of my class.

For nothing. My dad was ashamed of me.

Now maybe in his own way, he was trying to say that he thought I was capable of more. And maybe he wanted more for me. I don’t know.

What I do know is that in those brief moments I went from feeling proud, excited and happy to worthless.

For years, I tried so hard to win his approval, garner his blessing with the choices, directions and steps I was taking in my life, only to hear over and over the same sentiment, “Amy, you’re not good enough.”

Breaking free from those lies has taken a lot of effort. You see, folks can tell you that you’re wonderful, but deep down, there’s little voice that condemns, ridicules and laughs at you each time you try to believe otherwise.

Until God steps in and changes things.

I’ve been walking with God my entire life. So you’d think that His promises would’ve broken the chains of lies years ago. Maybe they should have. I don’t think I was willing to accept His truth, out of fear and doubt that they were for me.

It wasn’t until I lost my dad last year, was I able to really hear God’s truth about my life.

Sometimes those we love the most are the ones who either intentionally or unintentionally hurt us the worst. Their words, innuendos, sarcasm can leave lasting scars that I believe only God can truly heal.

We don’t have to stay in the past, repeating the lies in our minds and hearts, making it a mantra that should never be placed on us.

Instead we can choose to listen, embrace and accept God’s truth.

We are loved by our Holy precious Father. We have a place in His house, with Him. Forever. In His eyes, we are His beloved children, washed clean from sin because of His son Jesus.

I want to encourage you to really listen to the words of this song, let them sink deep into your soul, healing it from any lies you were told and making room for the truth that there is a place for you in your Father’s house.

Until next time friend, you are loved by God.

Dream A Little Dream

This afternoon I rushed home, eager to change into comfy athletic gear and take our dogs out for a walk. The past few weeks with its endless dreary rainy overcast days and a flu virus quarantine at the assisted living community where I work, left me feeling worn down and in much need of a serious dose of Vitamin D and fresh air.

Lickety-split I was in my favorite Nike’s, headphones on and the pups were on their leashes and we were basking in the warmth of the sun.  As the dogs and I tooled around the neighborhood I pulled up my latest selection on Audible and hit play.

Christian author, Elizabeth George is one of my all-time favorites. Not having grown up with many godly influences in my life, I always listen intently to Mrs. George share her godly wisdom through her book, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart.”

As I listened while the dogs played, something Elizabeth said caught my ear, “Dream of being a woman’s after God’s own heart.”

Dream…?

Something about that word really piqued my curiosity and the little kid in me, rose to the surface as I tried to think of the last time I actually dreamed of anything. It had been way too long and just like my need for a little sunshine, dreaming, it would seem was something else I needed in my life.

In fact, the more I toyed with the idea of dreaming about being a woman after God’s heart felt like someone was asking me, “If you won the Mega-Bucks lotto what would you do?”

Well dear friends, that’s what so exciting about Elizabeth’s words of encouragement, we don’t have to wait until we hit the lotto or relocate or start a new job in order for things to change in our lives. We can be proactive, take stock of where we truly are in our walk with the Lord, in our marriage, our relationships with our children, friends and family and honestly ask ourselves, “where are we and what would we like to change.”

I think part of the reason I was am so excited these days is because I realized while walking that I was living on autopilot. I was so caught up in making a living, getting through the day, and just getting by, that I’d somehow stopped enjoying living. Life was mundane.

Routine.

Redundant.

Now that’s not to say I wasn’t grateful. A quick look over my life and I will be the first person to tell you that the good Lord has sought fit to bless this sinner with more forgiveness and grace than I’ll ever deserve.

But somewhere along the way I had forgotten how to live.

Here’s the deal, that list of to-do’s sucked the life out of me even affected my time with the Lord. It was stale. Boring. Blah.

Jesus warns us, saying, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation3:15-16 (NIV)

There’s danger in becoming apathetic, in simply giving up and accepting a pasty relationship with God.

Now is the time for a little daydreaming.

Life could look different.

Once home from my walk and energized by Elizabeth’s words, I began asking myself how was I going to break this cycle of repetition and low-level boredom in my daily life and spiritual walk? What needed to change in my walk with Jesus? Which areas needed a good cobweb cleaning and which habits need to go into the emotional trashcan?

Almost immediately thoughts began to permeate my time with God.

I missed women’s bible studies.  I missed the comradery and accountability that comes from spending time with other God-centered women and ultimately the growth that comes from being in God’s word.

The church we attend is small and we don’t actually have a women’s ministry per se. But why should that stop me or any other woman who wants to draw closer to God? It shouldn’t.

Which then led my pen to paper to scratch out ideas on how I could start a group, invite others to participate and frankly get me out of my comfort zone and cause me to stretch and grow my faith with God.

Boo-ya! Within minutes ideas were flowing onto the pages of my journal and for once, in a very long time, I was excited about the possibilities.

Now the tough part…

In order to not fall prey to my old habits I needed to take action. Which led to more brainstorming, more journaling and a list of ways to help get this group off the ground, including researching a good bible study to offer, connecting with our Pastor to garner his support and of course, first and foremost, talking to God about this idea. I can’t wait to see where He takes these ideas!

How about you? Are there areas that have grown stale?

If so, I encourage you to grab a journal, find a quiet spot, pull out your bible and spend some time with God asking the tough questions of yourself and of Him. Share your heart and your daydreams.

Who knows us better than the good Lord above? Who wondrously made us and knows every hair on our head? He loves you and I and He waits to spend time with us.

May your time with the Lord bubble up new dreams for your life. Don’t settle for apathy. Don’t settle for being lukewarm. Get out there, talk to God and give those dreams a chance to take flight.

Until next time,

Jesus loves you!

I Am… Holding Onto You

Ever listen to a song that reaches into your soul and doesn’t let go?

“I Am” by Crowder is that song for me.

Each time a storm rages in my life, I listen to this song so as to be reminded that I can run to God, hold onto God and never let go.

But this morning it hit me.

I Am is the One holding me in the middle of the storm.

I am being held by the Great I Am.

Ugh! That spearheaded my soul like no other truth.

Sure, it should’ve been obvious. A big “duh” moment for me. But sometimes, I think it’s about perspective and how I relate to God.

Up until this moment I guess I always viewed my relationship with God as me, chasing Him. Me, trying to please God. I thought I was the one doing the holding. In fact, the image that always comes to mind when I listen to this song, is that of the woman with the bleeding disease found in Luke 8:43-48.

For 12 long years this woman sought doctors and different medicinal treatments to no avail. She was an outcast in her community. Shunned by those close to her.

Then came Jesus.

Her heart knew that all she needed was Jesus. To grasp hold of God, even in the smallest way, through the touching of His the hem would be enough.

Just one touch.

She fought the crowds, ignored the ridicule, with one goal in mind, Jesus.

On some level, this is how I see myself with Jesus. Me, in my desperation, during moments of chaos and storms, chasing after Him. Just like the woman in Luke 8, the goal is reaching Jesus.

Never in all my years of knowing Him, did it ever dawn on me that Jesus was already holding me. There wasn’t any need to chase. No panic needed. Instead, rest and security was His promise to me.

His efforts, not mine.

The Holy I Am was already aware of what I needed and able to give it.

Even now as I write this, tears flow.

The truth that God Himself would love me enough to hold me through the storms and beyond, is humbling. I didn’t have to chase Him. I didn’t have to fight crowds to be healed from the chaos of my life. I Am was already holding me.

I Am holding on to you
I Am holding on to you
In the middle of the storm
I Am holding on
I Am!”

This is the truth for each of us.

There is no need for us to feel like we’re the ones doing all the reaching out, God is already holding us in the palm of His hand. In fact, He promises in Romans 8:38-39 the following: “ For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Today dear friend, I pray this truth sinks deep into our souls. May we accept His gift of being held in the middle of our storms so that we may rest in The Great I Am.

Until next time,

Blessings and best wishes,

A Bird’s Eye View

Generally speaking I’m like most folks who attend our small church and I sit in the main sanctuary. Then there are times like today when I sense the Lord urging me to be still.

As I entered church I felt the familiar tugging in my soul urging me to head upstairs to the quiet balcony.

The moment I climbed the last step and turned to look out at the birds eye view splayed before me, I was awestruck. Sun radiated through the side stained glass windows, speckling the blue carpet with shards of multi-colored shapes. The pew lined sanctuary with a deep center cut aisle seemed to echo the words, “enter in, enter in.”

I noticed my good friend Marne** manning the computer used to display the song lyrics on the big screens during worship.

Our small 5 person band finished their set as snippets of laughter and muted conversations wafted up to the balcony as guests slowly filed into the sanctuary.

Laughter, music, friendship, and a sovereign reverence filled the air.

Wanting to soak it all in, I settled into my seat, closed my eyes and offered up a prayer, asking God to open my heart and mind to what He wanted to share with me this morning.

Suddenly I heard the old worn pew creak as a body quietly sat down next to me. A look to my left revealed it was Marne, only this time, she looked forlorn.

I was a bit confused; moments earlier she was grinning ear to ear, her typical jovial self. Now, not so much. Something was definitely grieving her.

“What’s going on?”

Tears welled up in her eyes, “I don’t know why I think I can do this. I’m not very good at computers. This morning as I was trying to get all of the slides in order for today’s sermon, nothing worked. I couldn’t find a single song. I looked everywhere on the computer and I couldn’t find them. I don’t know why I bother.”

I tried my best to reassure her “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You always do a great job, It’ll all be OK. Remember, give yourself grace.”

Just as I said those words, our pastor came up and asked to see her at the computer board. As they worked quietly together I re-centered my thoughts back to why God had drawn me upstairs. Show me Lord, don’t let me miss a single thing you want to share.

A few minutes later Marne was back, only this time, her smile had returned. “Well, see there. It wasn’t me after all. I thought the reason I couldn’t find the songs was because I was too stupid to figure it out. But the pastor told me, he’d forgotten to download them.”

I shook my head, “See…I knew it would all work out.”

Tears sprang to her eyes again but she quickly wiped them away, “I know. I’m so hard on myself all at time.”

“I can be that way too.”

The band started playing which signaled the end of our conversation. We hugged quickly and Marne returned to the computer board and I headed to a small corner of the balcony to watch the activity below, unfold.

The band with its singers, ushers, communion servers and those standing to worship gathered together to bring their talents and gifts to the Lord as an act of worship.

As I mulled over my conversation with Marne, and watching people stand in worship it dawned on me, that none of us come to His sanctuary perfect. We’re all in need of His grace.

It’s in our hearts to give what we have, including our limits, as an offering to the One our soul loves, God Almighty.

As I watched the band rock out, encouraging the congregation to make a joyful noise, I started thinking about the interchange between my friend and I.

How often do we think we’re stupid? That our gifts are lame and that God wouldn’t accept them? As I pondered the thoughts, I watched my friend Jen** play the drums. Jen is self-taught and will quickly admit her struggles as a new drummer. Sometimes she is too slow, too upbeat or too loud.

Yet despite those issues, Jen, like Marne continue to bring their giftings into the the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty. A heartfelt act of worship.

Both of my friends, worry their inadequacies will be unacceptable in the sanctuary of our Lord.

It’s a lie!

Satan constantly whispers those types of lies in our ears, even in the sanctuary of our Lord, aiming to convince us that we are not enough.

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” ~ Matthew 21:15-16

Friend, I want you to know this, God created you, loves you and is blessed by your efforts. God knows your heart and accepts a sweet gift from you, His child, who entered into His sanctuary to praise Him,

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been singing for 30 years in the choir or have always served on the weekly meal ministry team. What matters is your heart. What is it you want to give to the Lord?

What’s the condition of your heart? Are you worried you are not enough? That God won’t accept your efforts? Or do you serve to get recognition?

It’s wise of us to sit and ask the Lord to bubble up the truth of our efforts. Let Him be the One to tell you “thank you” or “please re-examine your motives.” After all, isn’t He the One we came to praise? Haven’t we entered into His holy sanctuary?

Every single drummer, children’s ministry helper, usher, middle schooler who helps pass the collection plate and homeless man serving communion, they are precious in His sight.

That includes you!

Let me ask you this: What are you offering the Lord in praise? In thanksgiving?

Whatever it is, if freely and willingly offered up to the Lord in thanksgiving and praise, it is accepted. This gift can simply be you. Maybe you walked in the backdoor of the church with a bunch of strangers and you simply want to sit silently in prayer. Acceptable!

Maybe your heart leads you to work in the children’s ministry cutting out crafts. Acceptable! Whatever it is that God is leading you to do, remember, it is an act of worship. A gift to God!

Never accept the lie from satan that tries to prevent you from entering the Lord’s courts with thanksgivings and praise! He is worthy of your praise and you are loved by God Almighty!

1 Chronicles 16:23-31

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!””

Until next time,

Know that you are loved by the Father,

**names have been changed to respect the privacy of those mentioned in the post**

Lunchtime Love Notes

Before and After

I am currently reading La-Tan Roland Murphy’s book, Becoming A Woman Of Interior Elegance. La-Tan’s book centers around the premise of becoming a God designed woman of elegance.

In Chapter 6 La-Tan poses the following question in Chapter 6, “Think about women in your life who have been women of interior elegance. What characteristics did you admire most and desire to model your life after?”

I quickly listed off 3 women who have greatly impacted my walk with God. These women, whom I have known 20+ years role model for me what it is to put God first in every single area of their lives; marriage, ministry, friendships, work.

Then it hit me. What I admire about these 3 ladies is what I don’t have in my own life.

Ouch!

These 3 admirable all have 1 thing in common; they seek God before making any decisions, in all areas of their lives.

Now to be honest, I’d like to say I do the same but…honestly, 9 times out of 10 only seek God after I’ve done everything I can to navigate all of the areas of my life and then fail.

After all of these years of knowing these ladies, it should’ve been evident what I was doing wrong, but I think my pride kept me from accepting the truth. Matthew 6:33 reminds us of the following, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Now here’s the amazing truth, we can start again. Today. In God’s economy it’s never too late to put Him first.

Whatever I’ve done in the past, however I’ve lived my life, God will forgive me when I ask, and lead the way when I seek to follow Him.

Today. That’s a commitment I’m making.

I don’t want to live another day, minute or hour doing it my way. I want to draw closer to God in such a way, that God will change me to such a degree that God gets all the glory.

Friend, let me just say, it’s never too late. If you’re like me and have lived a lifetime doing it your own way, please know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with you and for you. He loves you with an everlasting love and He is waiting for you to call on His name.

I pray that if you struggle like I do to put God first, that today you would join me in taking this first step to seek God first. Let us band together in prayer, asking for God to forgive us and to restore our footing so that from this moment on we will follow Him first in our thoughts, words and deeds.

While we’re at it, let us not forget to give Him all the thanksgiving and glory He deserves for what He’s about to do on our behalf for His glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray this for us. Amen

As you go back to your day, please know that I am praying for you and asking God’s hand to be upon your life.

Remember,

Have a wonderful rest of your day!

Tears of Pain, a Song of Praise

“My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” ~ Psalm 71:8

Yesterday morning as I was reading Psalm 71 I noticed a pattern of the psalmist crying out to God, begging God to rescue and him from the painful enemy attacks. Despite the heartache, despite waiting on God to change his circumstances, the psalmist sings praises to the Lord. Verse 15 says, “ My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of Your salvation all day long; though I know not its measure.

Which got me to thinking, how in the world is it possible to sing when I’m in pain?

The idea that in my pain I should sing out to the Lord had me baffled. Because let me be real here, when my world comes crashing down, I’m in full mode emotion. Tears, anger, frustration, fear, I’m just like the psalmist, crying out to God begging Him for protection and relief.

So the idea of a person praising God in the midst of suffering rolled around my thoughts much like a pair tennis shoes thrown in a dryer. Ka-thump, ka-thump, pain, prayer, praise…ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump, pain, prayer, praise.

I couldn’t shake the idea I was missing something God really wanted me to understand. Combining pain and praise did not make any sense.

These thoughts were still spinning the next day as I drove over to meet a friend for a walk. On my car stereo the playlist from my phone shuffled from one song to the next.

Traffic inched to a stop and this song came on. My breath caught and tears poured down my cheeks.

This song is the only one I truly have associated with my dad. As if it were happening right this moment, a memory of me as a 5 year old little girl standing in the backseat of my dad’s sky blue Buick with white vinyl seats as this song played.

I remember his left arm resting on the top of the rolled down window as he gripped the steering wheel with his right, his little pinky, where he wore a silver band tapped out the beat against the steering wheel.

The warm summer breeze filled the car right alongside of the melody. For me, this was heaven. Just me and daddy singin’ this song. Time stood still for 2.5 minutes, frozen in my mind’s eye, forever.

Precious, sweet moments of a little girl who thought her daddy was magical, god-like, invincible. Daddy was a mixture of John Wayne swagger and Elvis’ good looks. The combination made him larger than life and I thought there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.

I was wrong.

He couldn’t beat death.

To hear this song for the first time since his death 9 months earlier brought a surge of pain so deep I couldn’t hold back the tears. This song reminded me instantly of what I’d tried to put out of my mind for the last 9 months.

Daddy was gone.

There’d be no more time spent sittting in the garage watching him rebuild a motorcycle engine. No more playing, “Name That Tune” every time a song came across the radio.

Death had taken my dad and left behind a chasm of pain so deep no amount of tears will ever fill it.

For a brief second as I was driving I honestly considered pulling over to just allow myself to cry. Flat out, bawl for the loss of my dad. Something I haven’t done since he passed.

The logical side of me shunned the thought of making my friend wait on me while I had a meltdown so I kept on driving and hitting the shuffle button. I was determined to find a song that would help change my frame of mind. I figured if one song could bring me to tears then certainly another could pull me out of the pain.

Then it hit me, wait a stinkin’ minute, isn’t that what the psalmist was talking about in Psalm 71?

I hit the shuffle button on my phone. I needed something to soothe my soul, take away the pain and make everything better.

Nothing fit the bill.

Not my favorite rockin’ 80’s music, not classical, not movie musicals, not even Christmas music. Every song left me feeling empty and worse than when daddy’s song played.

The psalmist said, “My lips will shout for you when I sing praise to You – I, whom you have redeemed.” Psalm 71:23

So there’s the key, songs of praise to God. Acknowledgement for what He alone has done in my life.

Time for more honesty, I didn’t want to sing praise music. I was knee-deep in heartbreak. It’s true this verse came to mind as I was crying over my dad, and I knew I should pull up my Praise and Worship music as the psalmist had done but, honestly, I just wanted the pain to stop.

I didn’t want an upbeat song, I wanted the memory of losing my dad and my deep heartache to stop.

I shuffled through dozens of songs and couldn’t find anything to fit the bill. Now I was beginning to feel worse than when I heard daddy’s song. Reliving my father’s death and the reality that nothing was taking the pain away amplified my hurt.

Finally, I gave in. I did it the psalmists’ way and I pulled up my Praise and Worship music. I found the one that spoke to my pain and to my acknowledgement of just how much I needed God and to His goodness.

Music is our way of singing to the Lord our thanksgiving for all that He has done in our lives. A way of remembering all that is freely given by way of His love for us.

In the end, by following the example of the psalmist, God took my pain and healed it with His love. A moment of desperation turned to praise.

My prayer for you is you will do the same. Only don’t do what I did. Don’t waste precious moments looking for songs that will gloss over your pain. looking for anything but praise to our Father to take away your pain. You will be sorely disappointed and hungry for healing until the moment you surrender your pain to Him and turn it over to praise for all that He has done in your life. He did so, for the love of you!

May we always be quick to turn our hearts and mouths to praise. Praise to our Father.

Until next time,

Blessings & Best Wishes,