Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summertime Lesson

I stood at my kitchen sink this morning. Glancing out the window, something caught my attention and suddenly all time stood still. God was giving me a summer-time lesson on life.

Right outside that window is our pool; but that's not actually what caught my eye. It was actually the sight of tiny ringlets of water ripples forming across the surface of the water. I just stood there perplexed, and continued to watch; then it dawned on me what was actually causing those formations. Raindrops so tiny that they weren't even visible to my eye...yet they were there.

A few moments later, I looked again and there were more and more tiny ringlets forming as a gentle - now visible - light shower of raindrops fell. I stood there for a few moments more and thought about prayers for refreshing rains to fall in my soul. 

"Repent ye...when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;"    
Acts 3:19

Ouch! Sometimes I do it without even realizing it. I get all wrapped up in doing life; things are good and I can easily say, "It is well with my soul!" We all love those moments in the journey, don't we? Moving right along, and everything is just peachy we might tack on to the description of our days. 

But then days come when, all the sudden I find myself struggling. It gets really messy! It's probably a bit (or a lot) of pride, but I try to do the Biblical thing and encourage myself in the Lord. You know, I attempt to handle things on my own. Don't we all do it at times or am I alone on this one? I tell myself, "OK, you need to shore up here. Don't be distracted! Don't fall for that trick again. Be wise! Shake yourself off and get up and go on. You should be more grown than this!" We know all the right things to say I suppose. However, were we made or expected to be so independent? 

We all must mature in our Christian walk, but do we ever really get BIG enough to do it on our own? No, as awful as it may sound, I'm (we're) needy at times. Our Father made us to be dependent upon Him and each other. There are indeed times when we're not supposed to "handle it on our own." Yet, I admit, it's hard at times to open up and admit I'm struggling. Even though it's more-than-alright to do so.

When I run to the arms of my loving Savior; He never turns me away. I repent and ask Him to forgive my stubbornness and wash my heart clean once again...I ask for that refreshing rain to fall gently into my heart and renew my mind. One of the beautiful things about God is that He is always faithful to do so. 

There's truly nothing like being in His presence! There, as I open myself to Him, He restores. I suppose I imagine those refreshing rains kind of like the gentle rain that made those tiny ringlets of ripples in our pool this morning. It was a beautiful reminder of God's gentle touch, His unconditional love and faithfulness toward me. I am reminded that I need Him, that I cannot - and am not expected to - do this on my own. 

Beautiful, refreshing ringlets...always available for me and you. Sweet refreshing rains in the presence of the Lord. It is well with my soul!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Being Still...

"...but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; 
but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." 
I Kings 19:11-12 

I was enjoying a quiet day on the home front. With nothing of much importance on the all-mighty To-Do List, I was able to slow down and be quiet for a few moments longer than usual. It was a gray, cloudy, day with storms forecast for the afternoon hours. Home alone. No noise. No distractions. I was being still. 

I had snuggled onto the couch when I heard it. I'm sure it wasn't really quite as loud as it seemed, yet the little bird seemed to be blasting its song over a megaphone for all practical purposes. In the quiet, stillness of my day, this feathered creature immediately got my attention. world stood still as I enjoyed its sweet song.

I began to wonder how many times we miss important God-whispers because there isn't much quiet, stillness in our days. The more advanced and modernized we become, the quicker we can do things, the more we expect to get done in a single day and the faster we seem to go. Truthfully, we leave very little time in our days in which to set aside for quietness. I mean, how many times have we made or heard the statement "There's not enough time in a day..."? 

The truth is, if God gave us more hours in a day, 
we'd probably still not find time to squeeze 
"being still" into our day.

Sure, God can speak to us as we're zipping full-speed-ahead through our days. He speaks in the loud whirlwind and we might hear Him, but what if He chooses to whisper in the quiet stillness? Will we ever hear His call in our rushed state of mind and being? 

After it quit singing, I continued to sit quietly, thinking about what we might be missing out on? Are we drowning out the voice of God with media? Radio? Television? Games? Cell phones? Pandora? Playlists? Movies? Are we missing His voice because we're busy as a bee, scuttling to and from this event or that extra-curricular activity, working over-time, or running endless errands? 

Are we missing His tug because we're too busy and 
our world is just too noisy? 

I wonder how God must feel when we continually crowd Him out of our days. I know we cannot make time stand still, but I am challenged to do better. I'm challenged to make myself be still somewhere in my day so I can be intentional about listening for His voice. Won't you join me?

Try it for seven days. Let's see what a difference it might make in our lives? What exciting things would we have to share with one another if we took this challenge seriously and made it a lifestyle. Just a side note for others: If we don't answer the phone on the first ring tomorrow or show up on time for the next PTA or staff meeting, we might just be practicing the art of being still - before the King

I'll catch up with you later~

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When God Says "Enough!"

"The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace."  
Psalms 29:11

I've written lately about the storms of life and such...about how life is hard and even ugly sometimes. For instance, some days we have to count the lemons until were able to count the blessings again. Then, there was the post about God not "saving the day" but He saves us through our days.  Oh, and I can't quickly forget the post written about being hidden in Him until the storm is over. I'm reminded through all this, that I CAN make it through those dark, ugly moments in life. Yes, they will come but I can overcome...and so can you.

Yesterday, my thoughts began to shift into another vein of God's faithfulness. I was thinking about Job and how God allowed Satan to make Job's life miserable on every level. It's hard to fathom how a God who loves us so deeply would allow us to go through those times in which we feel we'll never make it. Job was a man that "was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." (Job 1:1) Yet...God allowed Satan to do anything to him, with the exception of killing him, to prove to Satan that Job was the real-deal. That seems so crazy, and even warped, to our human minds, huh? 

I think about situations in my own life and the lives of those I hold near and dear in my heart. I don't always understand exactly what the Lord is doing. Often times, it doesn't make a lick of sense in my mind. I know the scripture that says it rains on the just and unjust, but sometimes it seems like torrential downpours that just won't let up. A continual pounding for the faithful, devoted, child of God. How could this be? Why? Where's God at? Why won't He hurry up and answer? We're all good at questioning and crying out to God to ease the pain and suffering, aren't we? Lord, please answer our prayers! QUICK!

What if this time it's a case of God giving the devil permission to bombard us because He trusts us to be able to handle it? That puts things in quite a different perspective, doesn't it? There is still pain, we still fear, we still long for it to be over and behind us....but somehow we have to know that God has us in the palm of His hand even in the storm. He is not short concerning His promises and He always has His eyes upon us. That brings hope even in the midst of the storms, my friend. 

In the darkest, loneliest night, when our strength is all but vanished...

God suddenly whispers, "Enough is enough!" 

BAM!!! Just like He spoke in the very beginning of time and there was light; God says "Enough!" and the storm is over. IMMEDIATELY! The devil can't argue with that. He may be allotted a time to buffet us, but then his time is up. All the drama he conjured up during that time, is suddenly ceased and there is blessed peace. Not only is there peace, but God restores and blesses above and beyond. It's almost as if we're payed back because we made it through. Sweet restoration.

He didn't bless Job again with the same things Satan took away either, no God restored above and beyond what was taken away during Job's dark storm. He's no respecter of persons either, He'll do the same for us! 

When we feel we're in those times of intense pounding, when the storms seems to beat us down, while we may be assured that the enemy of our soul is on the loose, we can rest assured knowing God is present. He is in control. We just need to keep standing, praying and living like we know to do. And, if it is indeed a time when God has permitted the devil an opportunity to try us, we can be sure that there IS going to be a moment when He whispers, "Enough is enough!" and all will be well again. 

Indeed, friend, get ready for the blessings to start pouring down upon you instead. It's a beautiful ending to a season of dark, chaotic storms. This stormy season hasn't been the end of your story, or mine, it's merely the beginning of beautifully, planned, season of restoration - made possible by the Lord of the storm. 

Let's put our umbrella's away and dance together in the drizzle. God has said, "Enough."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Just Write - The Gift

I love to write. I cannot keep from writing. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about, listening and watching for something to write about. (I love college-ruled paper and black pens...and my trusty laptop which helps me write and edit with ease.) People joke with me and say, "Write about that!" 

I received a special heart-gift this week from a friend which included a book entitled, "Just Write." It makes me happy to write. When I have writers block, I'm a miserable creature. I have been blessed with an insatiable desire to write words. Yet, it doesn't matter to me if I ever produce a best seller. I'm not interested in a novel on the top of any readers list. I don't need fame, fortune, etc. - that's not what gratifies me. 

What I desire most when I write is for the words I pen to enter the heart of a reader somewhere out there and for that person's heart to be encouraged, inspired and turned toward God. Because, after all, the most important aspect of our lives is the soul part that will live eternally. I write to encourage and uplift those souls. (I write on some days to do that to my own weary soul.)

What makes writing worthwhile to me?

It's not about how many "likes" I get on Facebook or having someone "tweet" one of my originals. Although those things might be a tad bit exciting when they do happen, that's not what it's all about.  I often share the three steps I've come up with and use in my writing process, "1) Just write it, 2) click publish and 3) pray for God to let it reach whomever may need it."

When I follow those steps, God does amazing things. Just today, I received a text from someone who said, "Your post yesterday was for me, thanks." It's at times like that when I feel God is looking down on me with a smile or giving me a quick wink. Occasionally, I'll receive a message or comment on Facebook thanking me for posting and how it had been just what that person had needed that day. It's in moments like these that I feel blessed to be able to pen words and get my thoughts down on paper. When someone comments on my blog and says, "I didn't think of it that way. Thanks for sharing your perspective." It is inspiring to me.  Oh, how I love it when God allows the gift He's given me to bless the hearts of others. 

However, I know it's not all about me. If I never receive interaction on anything I write ever again, that's OK. It's about the gift. It's about the God who's given the gift. It's about sharing the gift. It's about that gift touching the life of a sister (or brother) out there who might be struggling and in need of some encouragement. It's about that sweet soul being uplifted and inspired to keep on putting one foot in front of the other as they walk toward God...whether I ever find out or not.  

That, my friend, is why I write. Why. I. Love. To. Write. The gift.

Thanks to each of you who have blessed me with a glimpse of how my gift has touched your life. It's always so encouraging. Also, I'd like to thank those of you who silently read. Keep reading, please! And to those who encourage me to WRITE and help support me in my endeavors...thank you. I am one blessed girl! Writing brings me such joy.

Until next time...I'm glad you stopped by. Keep your eyes on Jesus and share your gifts. You can do it! Together, we can make it. Jesus is coming soon! Until then...I'll JUST WRITE and share my gift with whomever the Lord brings onto this path. Blessings~

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

He Saves Me

We're all aware, we've all seen or read about it, the types of cartoons and stories where a super-hero flies in with a mask on and his cape fluttering in the wind as he enters a troublesome scene to "save the day." Yes!!! Who doesn't love a hero!?

Have you ever had that scene creep into the desires of your own real-life situations? Have you ever just wanted someone to sweep right in and save the day for you? I'm sure we've all been there at one time or another. Trouble is real. Grief is undeniable. Hurt is inevitable. Life can be tough!

We send prayers Heavenward in hopes of some relief. We trust God and expect Him to answer. We know He will. He's promised to take care of us, to see to our needs and to hear our every call. And...we stand upon those promises. We look for Him to sweep in and save the day. YET...

Sometimes He answers - and it's not what we thought it would look like. In the middle of our trying circumstances, He might not fly in and throw whatever "it" is far away in order to save us. In our difficult relationships, He might not go on the hunt for the "bad" guys and totally annihilate them on our behalf. He might not do any of those remarkable things we can imagine a super-hero to do. 

As I was thinking about all this, this simple thought came to my mind:

When God doesn't save the day, He saves me!

Need some Biblical examples? Consider Noah, he went through the flood. Moses, he went through all sorts of situations with the children of Israel. Joseph went through multiple occasions when he probably wished the Lord would have saved the day. What about Paul? There are many more examples, but in every situation, God was there for His child while they were going thru.

I'm reminded of the verse that sums it up so well. Words spoken by Jesus:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." 
John 16:33

On our most desperate days, when we feel we can't make it another mile, our Hero tells us to be of good cheer. He gives us peace. He provides the strength for us to keep walking. He shines bright so we can see the pathway ahead. Let's be encouraged today - and tomorrow - and the next day. God might not always save us from our situations, my friend, but He saves us - every time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Counting Lemons

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: 
thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness..." 
Psalms 30:11


They have a reputation for being sour. Tasting a lemon often results in a grimace on ones face. How many times have we sat across the table from a little boy or girl and laughed at their response to being "treated" to a lemon? 

We don't usually like sour things, do we? 

Sometimes I get side-tracked when things in life begin to go hay-wire. Do you? Maybe it starts with something seemingly small and even insignificant, which might leave me feeling small and insignificant. It shouldn't "break" me down; yet, there I am...responding to the sour taste in my mouth. Hey, I'll be the first to admit, I don't always pass the tests first time around. 

There comes a time, after what seems like continual flying lemons for days, when I feel myself start to weaken and buckle under the weight of it all. Ever been there? I'm sure if you're reading this, you have. It happens to us all at one time or another. The tears flow like rivers. Our hearts hurt. We don't understand. Maybe we want to fight, or perhaps run away and hide. I tend to do the latter. No, I'm not proud of the fact, that's just how I respond more often than not. The Lord's working on me!

It happens somewhere between a meltdown and when I begin to let the Lord step in to comfort me and help me look at things from a different perspective. Somewhere along the way I must choose to do something with those lemons which are making my day miserable and leaving me with a grimace on my own face...and like it.

During those weak moments, the enemy adds fuel to the fire - often leaving us feeling rejected and unloved. All lies! Yes, he's super-good at throwing out his own arsenal of lemon-bombs. It's the "kick 'em while they're down" concept. And, although we know better; sometimes we fall for his tricks - yes, in spite of knowing the truth. 

So what do you do with all those lemons you're left holding? We all know the answer to that age old question: we make lemonade. Or lemon something. Anything! Will it be easy? No, I'm not saying it will be easy-peasy to squeeze those lemons into something good. It takes time and effort to juice a lemon! Anything is possible with the Lord though. Right?! Somewhere between the meltdown and standing tall again, we must allow the Lord to wrap us up. He doesn't like for us to hurt or to think of ourselves as "less than" - especially since He's proven otherwise many, many times. 

I was thinking about the lemon Mary and Martha dealt with when Lazarus died. What a sour moment for them! Jesus came on the scene and wept with them, but then said, "Take ye away the stone." (John 11:39) Yes, He turned their sour situation into a sweet delight. He turned their grief and mourning into dancing, laughter and joy. He can do the same thing with our lemons too, my friend. It is His desire and good pleasure.

He'll never sit across the table from us and laugh at our response to something that seems to take our breath away.

What's better than lemonade on a hot, humid, summer day? Can't you just envision that large, cold glass of pale-yellow, refreshing, deliciousness? It can't happen without those sour lemons we'd rather not deal with! When it feels like there aren't many blessings to count...we can begin again by counting lemons.

Dear God -
During those less-than-desirable
moments in life, when I'm not holding it
together too well, please hold me close
and help me deal with the lemons -
until you've stepped in and
made something better
out of them.
Help me to remember, I can
always count on You!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

One Thing I Desire

I remember during my elementary days, in Christian school, when we were supposed to choose a life verse. A verse that meant something special to me. I'll admit, at that point in life, I didn't have a special, personalized verse to hang my proverbial hat upon. Yeah. While I don't remember, my verse was most likely Philippians 4:13 - just because someone I liked had chosen that one. Not really a good reason to grab hold to a life verse, huh?

Somewhere along the way, as I was growing into adulthood, a verse began to wrap itself around my heart. It became special. I don't know if it happened all at once or whether it was just a slow-growing process. Whatever the case, I can definitely say today that I have a life that I hold onto tightly.

Psalms 27:1, "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple."

I love to go to church. I've found throughout my years that I have a deep love to be in the house of the Lord. As a young person, whenever we'd have tornado warnings or really bad weather, I'd always want to be at church. Yes, I felt safe in this big, open, sanctuary that would probably not be considered the safest place to be in such a storm. Why did I feel safe? If you would have asked me then, I would've said, "Because it's God's house." It seemed so simple to me.

I love working at the church. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, whether cleaning toilets, working in the office, helping decorate Sunday school rooms, mowing the lawn...I could go on and on. However, most of all, I love when it's church time. I love to feel God's presence! There's nothing like it. Often times I regret that we have to leave after a service where the sweet presence of the Lord was so undeniable.

I love to worship the Lord with my church family. Yet, one of my favorite times is when there's nobody there but me and I go to the keyboard to spend some quality time - just me and the Lord. There's something intimate about playing and singing unto the Lord when you're all alone and there are no distractions. I think David understood this. In those special moments I sing, tears fall and I just enjoy worshiping the Lord. He always meets me there. The beauty of the Lord. I never leave without my heart being touched and my spirit being refreshed.

I love to hear the Word preached. There's nothing like going to church and listening to pastor break down God's Word for me. My Bible is filled with notes scribbled in the margins, on the blank pages, the title page and...well, pretty much wherever I can find a spot. Sometimes I feel like I could sit for hours on end and listen. I find I wish there was "more time" to take it all in. There's so much about God I don't know and understand that I desire more. To learn of the Lord...nothing is more satisfying to this girl. 

There's nothing I desire more, than to be in God's house, and I never want to take it for granted. In the presence of God, that's where I want to be...I wish I never had to leave. Just to day, and I don't believe we're too far away...those who love dwelling in the presence of the Lord, will be able to spend eternity worshiping Him without ever having to leave His presence. What a day that will be!

The beautiful thing I've learned with this verse is this: as much as I love to be in the Lord's presence, He loves to have me there even more. That's just amazing to me. Oh, how I love the Lord - I want to seek Him daily. That's the one thing I desire. And's my life verse the way I feel it in my heart.

Do you have a special verse?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hide Me Till It's Over

"Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: 
yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, 
until these calamities be overpast."  Psalms 57:1

I recall the comment in the Bible, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." I think about how many times I've muttered that same phrase in the middle of the messy days of life. You know, things can get topsy-turvy quite quickly. 

I was reading in my favorite book of the Bible, which happens to be Psalms just in case you aren't aware. I read this verse (the one at the beginning of this post) and I suddenly laughed out loud. 

Be merciful, God! How many times have I cried out to God during ugly, uncertain times in my life. It's almost like we're pleading with God to deliver us, and take all the scary moments and monsters out of our lives. You know, the monsters under the well as the ones screaming loudly in our heads. 

Next portion: 
Lord, I trust in you! OK, we're all quick to say that one. Most of the time we believe that to be true too and we give it our best shot to be brave and "trust" God through it all. Please understand, I'm not making light of our attempts. We all grow in our trust levels at different speeds just as toddlers learning to walk. I can just imagine how silly my feeble attempts must appear as I try to convince God that I know He's got it all and I have no fear or doubt. Yeah, I find it's easier said than done at times, what about your experience? "I trust you, Lord," I I hold my breath and wait for a miracle to happen.

Continuing on...
Now, hide me until all this is over and I can deal with it all! (That's where I laughed out loud.) Isn't that just like us ladies? Isn't that how we view those difficult seasons?!

Help me Lord, I trust  you. 
Now, just hide me until it's all over!!!

Of course, I know that's my version, Steff's Living Version, and maybe that isn't quite how the psalmist was feeling it when He penned it, but that's how it popped into my mind anyhow. Yeah, the good Lord made me with quite a sense of humor...nevertheless.

Isn't it just like our loving God to be patient and allow us to trust Him at whatever level we might find ourselves in our walk with Him? He allows us to call out to Daddy for help! He knows how frightening it can be at times and He doesn't look down  upon us because we're frightened. Quite the contrary!

We know He can do anything; nothing is impossible with Him.  He doesn't stop there we give it our best attempt to do what He's asked of us, to trust in Him, He always goes one step further. He is so strong...yet so very gentle. He will willingly and lovingly tuck us safely under His wing "until". He protects us and allows us to feel Him near....because He's a good Father. I don't know about you, but there's just some days when I just need Him to hold me extra close. What about you? 

So, if you're in one of those "hide me till it's over" moments...just stay put. You're not alone, I'm there too and so are others. Let's join together and do what we know to do...abide in Him...and one day it WILL be over. We might not always see the way clearly, but we can simply choose to trust at our level. Until then, let's rest in knowing He is our refuge. And...He allows us to gather together, to hide out, and encourage each other until "this too" shall pass. It will! How do I know? Because, He is merciful.

Be blessed~

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mud...It's Temporary!

Photo credit (AP Photo/Matt Slocumb)
Same day. Same track. Same race. Same finish line. Same mud.

I knew the mud was there, I knew they all had to pass through it to get to the finish line, yet this particular scene spoke to me. No, better said, it screamed at me. Just moments after the first horse crossed the finish line and cheers erupted, the second place horse crossed the same line. I just couldn't get over what was so obvious to me. The was just that...mud.

I watched... grown men and ladies, young boys and girls of all ages - dressed to the nines and topped with a myriad of Derby hats ranging from quite simple to grandiose in style...walking through mud and muck. I watched high-dollar, immaculately, groomed and trained horses with their sharply, dressed jockeys race around the muddy track. I watched with anticipation, felt the excitement, and rooted for my favorites. You see, the Kentucky Derby is always a special event to me since I lived a little more than stones throw away from the venue as a child.

The 2017 Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, had to deal with the muddy track but was quite "put together" and clean compared to the horses and riders which followed. Same day. Same track. Same race. Same finish line. Same mud. 

The second-place winner had to deal with the muddy track but didn't appear as "put together" and clean compared to the first place rider. Same day. Same track. Same race. Same finish line. Same mud.
Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports Images
My friend, we're all living in the same day - it's Monday 2017. I'm here to cheer you, and myself, onward. We're all on the same track, we're in this world but not of this world. We're all running the same race.  We're all headed for the same finish line - Heaven. And, although we will probably all look a little different crossing the finish line...we all deal with the same mud.

You see, life is filled with mud-slinging moments. We get spattered from merely living in an imperfect world day after day. Or perhaps, on the rough days, we might find ourselves riding along in fifth or sixth place and have to deal with extra doses of mud being tossed our way. You see, we all deal with mud in one way or another...that's just the reality of life. What matters is one simple thing and it's written about in God's Word. Who knew He'd know what our race would look like on Monday, May 8, 2017...but He does.

"...the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong...
but time and chance happeneth to them all." 
Ecclesiastes 9:11 

The mud, "time and chance", it happens to all of us. It's a given. Expect it. Life.

"... they which run in a race run, that ye may obtain." 
I Corinthians 9:24

We're all running this race, we're all running to obtain the prize. Run through the mud. Run like your life depends upon it. Obtain! 

And finally,

"...he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Matthew 10:22

My friend, it's not about crossing the finish line looking like we're dressed for Derby Day. It's not about crossing the finish line unscathed so you can stand in the Winners Circle looking like a million dollars. No, it's simply about enduring to the end. About cheering each other on...until. It's about finishing the race. That's all that matters. Deal with the mud. Cross that finish line with mud spattered everywhere. JUST FINISH THE RACE.

Then we can say like the great apostle did:

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, 
I have kept the faith:"
II Timothy 4:7

Yeah, I know it's more difficult on some days than others. I'll be the first to admit that. Some days I'm feeling like I'm stuck in last place too. It's alright though! We don't have to be in first place every day, but we've got to remain in the race, and run to obtain, and endure to the end. That's what we have to continually remind ourselves and others as we try to encourage and inspire.

Mud. Just remember, if we endure to the end, we'll be wearing much more than beautiful Derby hats. We'll exchange those temporal items for eternally, beautiful crowns which shall never fade away. Until then, let's just deal with the mud and keep on running. How's that for a mud run?! I'll be happy to finish...even if I have to deal with a little mud along the way. I want to see you finish too. Let's do this together. 

Mud. It's just that. Temporary.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wadded-Up Life Moments

As I was writing about buttons earlier this week, I started thinking about how unique each of us are. We're all differently unique in personality, preferences, characteristics and such. Yet, we're all made in God's image. Yes, we're fearfully and wonderfully made.  Each of us are tiny representations of our Father, one of His masterpieces. 

You, my friend, are a masterpiece. I am a masterpiece. That doesn't mean we have to be perfect. We're each under construction. What it does mean though is that we are a reflection of God, we're His idea, we've been made and purchased by Him, and He is in the process of writing our stories.

You don't have to visit here too many times to realize that I am simply a mess some days. Although I write to encourage and pray that at least one soul will read what I've written and be blessed by it, there are some days when I must go back and read the things I've shared. Simply because I need to hear it again! 

I make mistakes on a regular basis. On any given day, you might find my wastebasket filled with wadded-up paper. Undeniable proof that I've messed up and had to start all over again. In fact, for every post that is published to this blog, there are probably many, many corrections and discarded thoughts and words that are left behind.  Those wadded-up paper moments are part of my life story.

There are days when I wish I could wad up the page from yesterday and trash it. You too? Aren't you glad the Lord is the Author of our lives and can write us in and out of any situation? He writes every letter, every word, every sentence. Every page. Every chapter. The thing that's different, one of the many things between me and Him, is that He never has to wad a page up because He's made a mistake. He's the only One I know that doesn't need an eraser, white-out, correction tape or a blessed delete button. 

So, if you are in a "wad-it-up-&-throw-it-away" season of life, when things just don't seem to be adding up, rest in knowing that He is writing your story and if you'll just stick with Him and not throw in the towel, you'll end up with a beautiful story. He's in the business of creating Masterpieces. He can do that with any story! He just has a divine knack for doing so. 

When we hand God the pen, there are never any wasted pages, chapters or "wadded-up" life moments. He never makes a mistake, my friend. Won't you trust Him with your story today?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Angry Bowls

"So what are we to do? Put Tupperware bowls over every one of our buttons?" I blurted this out to my friend one day in frustration.

It flew out of my mouth before I had a chance to really think about it. While I don't like it when I fail to think things through before I say them, this was one phrase that would roll around in my mind without resting for days on end. Once said, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I could just envision a large control panel, full of buttons, maybe like the ones seen on Inside Out, only every button had a Tupperware bowl turned upside-down protecting it. Yeah, you have to be in my head sometimes!

We've all heard it said, "He/she just pushed the right/wrong button". Or perhaps, as I've said before, "They pushed ALL my buttons at once!" ALERT!!! You know, we all have those buttons. It's different for each of us, but we all have them. And...just for the record: THEY WILL GET PUSHED!

When our buttons get pushed, there will be a reaction. Always. What I was asking when I made that bowl statement was really quite simple. Maybe we've all asked these questions, perhaps just in different ways, at one time another. 
  • Am I allowed to get angry? I'm a Christian, after all.
  • Is it OK? I'm supposed to be setting an example. I'm supposed to be salt and light.
  • Should I try to be perfect enough to keep all my buttons protected? All the time? Is that doable?
The pressure is real. There are times when someone does or says something; and it just makes me downright aggravated. Even angry. I'm sure you can think of an instance quite eaisly when your buttons were pushed and you were left in a state of anger too.  We live in a fallen world with imperfect people. Yes, I'm included in that stack of imperfect people too. I can push someone's button just as quickly as they can push mine. That's just the facts, ma'am. 

After pondering and studying about this for several days, I have come to this conclusion: God made us with ALL of our emotions in tact. Anger happens to be one of them. Jesus even became angry at times. The Bible says to "be angry, and sin not." (Eph. 4:26) Part of the answer is that we cannot allow anger to lead to sinful actions. That is definitely wrong.

We're all going to be "anger-ized" at times. Whether intentionally or not, people and situations push those buttons and it can cause anger to spark within us. The rest of that verse in Ephesians says, "...let not the sun do down upon your wrath." You see, we all have a choice. We must choose to what degree we'll allow the anger to control and consume us. 

Remember those bowls I was asking about? Another way in which our anger becomes wrong (sin) is when we turn those bowls right-side up and hold onto anger and rage with a spoon in hand - this is when it becomes sin. When, instead of allowing forgiveness to enter our hearts, we let those thoughts and feelings "stew" a bit. What we end up with then is a non-digestible, bowl-full of soup that will only give us food (heart) poisoning or at the very least a tummy ache.

So, what am I trying to say? What am I telling myself in response to my crazy-phrased question? We can't protect all our buttons all the time...there aren't enough Tupperware bowls to go around for that. Yes, we (Christians) will get angry. No, that's not a sin. It's OK even! we continue to allow God to mature and teach us on a daily basis, we'll become more and more able to apply another verse in the Bible too: 

"The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression." Proverbs 19:11

Growing in my walk with Jesus means that I will become angered on occasion; however, I will do my best to be balanced in my responses so that it will not become a sin factor in my life or cause hurt to others. I might not have enough bowls to cover every single button, but I will never intentionally turn the bowl over and consume from the contents of Anger Soup left unchecked. My prayer will be, "Lord, help me to be angry and sin not. Help me to grow into you so much that I'm less often angered and more often able to quickly forgive those who push my buttons."

We're fearfully  and wonderfully made...with ALL of our emotions in tact. Now, grab all those Tupperware bowls in your cabinet, even those vintage gold and orange beauties. I pray we'll never look at them the same way again. Let's spread the word and start a new game with our friends and family that will be life changing and a constant reminder - "Angry" bowls!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Pressure Cooked

"Life feels like a pressure cooker....won't the timer just run out already!?", I say to myself.

I love to cook in my electric pressure cooker. Easy. No mess. One pot. Quick. Of course, there's always the added benefit of tender, tasty vittles when the timer goes off too. Yummy! Couldn't have happened without the pressure.

Yet, when life offers those particular, life-sucking, intensely-pressurized moments, when we feel like we ourselves are the ones in the pressure cooker of life instead of a chunk of meat and various veggies, that's an entirely different story. Even the quick three minutes it takes to perfectly cook a pot of rice seems like an eternity when we're feeling all the pressures of life. And...the struggle is real for us all at one time or another.

Life is always changing and can change at the drop of a hat. In a moments time, people may turn on you, the dog might go missing and a home can burn to the ground. All in a moments time. Jobs might terminate. Sickness can pop up out of nowhere. Devastation can run rampant. Nothing in this life is sure...with the exception that there will be those moments when you think you'll never make it another step. Pressure!

This song came to mind as I was typing out this post so I thought it my cue to share. (I Give You Jesus. I think its written by Janet Paschal)

If the ship of your life
Is tossing on the sea of strife;
You need someone.
And if you feel so all alone,
And your house is not a home;
You need someone.
If it seems life isn't fair,
And there's no one left to share;
All those lonely days and nights,
And things just won't turn out right;
And you need someone to care,
And someone to just be there;
You need someone.

I give you Jesus,
He's the peace that passes all understanding;
I give you Jesus,
He's the perfect love that casteth out all fear;
I give you Jesus,
He's the water that you drink and never thirst again;
I give you Jesus, my friend,
I give you Jesus,

If the pressures all around,
Keep your spirits to the ground;
You need someone.
And If your body is in pain,
And your health you can't regain;
You need someone.
And If at times when you have tried,
With all the strength you had inside;
And it seems that you have failed,
Remember on the cross He nailed
All the bitterness and grief,
To give you peace and sweet relief
He is that someone that you need.

 My friend, we have only ONE HOPE on a day when the pressure seems to be more than we can bear. 


Because...ultimately, there is Someone we can rely upon to release the valve on the pressure cooker of our lives. In the same manner and just as quickly as pressures can present themselves, they can again dissipate. It only takes a single word from the Master and all the pressure is released. 

He doesn't always step in as quickly as we'd like; however, that doesn't mean that He isn't able to do so. You know, there are certain things we MUST go through. Yes, because He loves us! It is for this exact reason that He allows us to sit in those uncomfortable, squeezing, pressure-packed moments from time to time. Not for our undoing though, but simply because some things can only happen DURING those moments. 

At just the precise moment in time, His timer will go off and He'll release the pressure...and we'll come out of the situation different than how we entered it. The Bible is full of examples of such. Now, while I'm quite sure the Bible never says anything about an actual pressure cooker, look at Daniel in the lion's den, Joseph in his journey to "second-in-command", look at Queen Esther in her quest to save her people. Pressure can be found in all these places and many, many more. 

I suppose its more about what takes place DURING those "pressure cooker" times than the actual pressure itself. It's easier for us to focus on what we're feeling though, rather than what is taking place.

"I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place."
Psalms 118:5

During the pressure, when I cry out in distress...the Lord will answer me. When He answers, when He finally releases the pressure valve, He sets me in a new place. He gives me space and freedom I didn't have while in the pot (pit). Just think about the tenderness and goodness of a chunk of meat that has simmered in the pressure for an extended time. It's delicious! It's tender. It's changed! 

If we'll allow God to work on and within us during the pressure, not only will our pressure-packed circumstances change but they'll be productive times in which we, ourselves, will come out changed for the better. We just don't always see it for what it is! The gift of a pressure-cooked situation. God has the unique ability to do stuff like that, doesn't He?

I hope this touches someone's life and offers hope during what might seem like the most intensely, pressurized moment in their life. God dropped this in my heart and it has given me hope today. May it be so with you as well. Remember, we're never alone...God is in control and will make it all beautiful when He releases that valve. 

Blessings on you ~