All the Way Yes

1881a37338a1f786d7d9a6eb8e99fdc3

If you knew that by being the way that you are ~ a deep thinker, someone who is highly empathetic, someone who cares to the point that sometimes they cross the line into worry or anxiety, would you have changed those things about yourself if you could have?

If by changing all of that you could have prevented this ugly illness (or depression, or whatever “consequence” you wish to list) from manifesting and taking tentacle-like root in your body would you have done it?

  • If given the chance to go back in time would you have made that trade?
  • Would you have become someone different if you’d been given the ability to do so to avoid the ugly that might ensue as a result of being the way that you are?
  • Would you  compromise who God made you to be inside to dodge the darts and arrows that would result from being that person?
  • Would you trade the growth, the refining, the deeper knowledge of God and who He is that came from being who He made you to be and turning yourself over to Him for daily molding to live a life of greater comfort, ease, and vitality?

This is the burning question that keeps showing up in the ticky tape of my thoughts ~ over and over again, of late. I can almost hear the sound of it (am I hearing voices now?) in the background pretty much with me ~ all the time.

“Should I have changed the way that I am early on…as a young child… so I wouldn’t be dealing this this Fibromyalgia right now? Is this somehow my own fault?”

And I think that’s because I NEED to be constantly reminded of this question and the answer which is…………………

Yes and No.

There are times that if you were to ask me this question ~ last night was most definitely one of those times ~ I would be VERY tempted to say flat-out yes. But it is really yes and no. Yes, I should have lost the parts of myself a long time ago that did not serve God, but self. But NO WAY would I change the good stuff that God made in me in order to avoid the consequences those things bring about.

Honestly, it’s just that sometimes I am soooo sick that I find myself wishing I could be someone who could say a full-on yes to that. But I know in my heart that I don’t truly mean it. I know in my heart that the thought of that is quite laughable.

It’s just so much harder to have it be yes and no. It would be so much easier to just have it be all the way yes, or all the way no!

I know in my heart that I am filled with things that God made in me, and yes…..some of those things may have contributed to my Fibromyalgia (amongst whatever all else is going on with my body) to rear its ugly head in a major way in my life eventually.

  • Being there for people in death and heartache – consistently – no matter how much it might hurt.That didn’t help my fight or flight issues.
  • Showing up each and every day for a child who struggles with special needs and all the emotion that goes along with that. That’s gonna take a toll on a highly empathetic individual.
  • Engaging the deep thinking and the soul searching and placing of self and ugly in the heart on the chopping block daily that comes as a result of searching to know God in a deeper and more meaningful way. Yah…that’s some intense stuff, folks.
  • And just the way my brain and heart flat-out work ~ let’s not forget about those little contributors to all of this.

The world will tell us a version of the truth that can be distorted, you know. It’s not very often the WHOLE truth. But some of what we are told is true as long as we don’t lose sight of God in the midst of it all.

That little list I made above? That stuff came out of the bad stuff. That is the beautiful stuff that God made out of the selfish stuff that has been there from the beginning. He truly does work all things together for our good if we allow Him to be our God.

Yes. That list is what God did as He chopped up the parts of me that weren’t supposed to be ruling and reigning in my life in order to make me more like Him.

Self-reliance is maybe the biggest thing about myself I WOULD change if I could that contributed greatly to this monster that has shown up in my life.

But God DID change that for me through all of this! God is STILL changing my tendency toward self-reliance. And it IS making me more like Him every single day. Maybe that war that I have been waging all my life – the one we are all taking part in – the war between self and surrender to the Almighty One – maybe it’s that war that has taken the greatest toll but that holds the greatest reward for us all at the same time.

I do believe in making changes that line up with what God has for us, friends.

I do believe we should try to take care of ourselves – because our body is His temple. We can try to eat more healthy food, avoid the stressors and things that bring about no good especially when we contend with an illness like I might have, and change the things about ourselves that do more harm than good in our lives.

I do believe there are times we continue to show up for others, but times where dusting off our feet and moving on is called for as well. And I believe the Holy Spirit can and will guide us when we encounter such times as those.

I do believe in utilizing the tools and resources that we have been provided with to help ourselves get through the hard stuff – the safe ones – The heating pad, the essential oils, some Tylenol, etc.

But ultimately, this illness has caused me to press in deeper to God’s bosom – to take shelter firmly beneath His wing. I find myself crying out for His comfort, His mercy, His companionship, His authority, and His truth and love in a more raw way now, if you will.

  • Nothing replaces that feeling of knowing that only HE can truly help us through something.
  • Nothing comes close to be able to describe what it’s like to meet Him in the midst of our suffering.
  • Nothing comes near to what we experience and how much richer we are when He shows up for us in a new way and reveals something magnificent about Himself that we never could see before.

Asking Him to tell us what to change about ourselves – and what to keep – well, that is something that we can do, you know. We are meant to be who God made us to be and the stuff that has crept in and tried to pretend it’s been there from the beginning is the stuff we have to allow Him to cut out and discard.

That’s what makes us more like Him – being pliable. Submitting. Being the clay.

Being more like Him doesn’t mean comfort, but it sure does mean blessings! Think about how Jesus was when He took His last breath on this earth. It wasn’t pretty and void of suffering by any stretch of the imagination.

But He didn’t leave this earth that way. He rose again after three days. He ascended to be with His Father in heaven. He lives! And He lives inside of us and is with us now.

Suffering does make us see Him in a new light, friends. And one day – one glorious day, all that suffering goes right out the window. Forevermore.

As we close our eyes to the pain and the ugly that our ailments, afflictions and sufferings reveal to us ~ we open them to our One True God.

The Almighty and Great Physician.

The Great I Am.

The Shepherd of our Souls.

He is the Potter Who is shaping our clay into a beautiful vessel!!!

So if you feel like a big lump of clay that has no form or purpose right about now – if you feel like you have lost direction, shape or meaning – if you feel like you have been ground up and left in the dust – turn it over to the One who promises to make it beautiful and right again.

Turn the lumps over. Let Him decide what to keep as part of his masterpiece and what to discard. Grieve if you need to for the discarded pieces – but turn to Him and allow Him to help you see the beauty of the creation He is making out of you.

And then…..you can give Him the answer to the real question ~ the one that really matters:

“if I could have allowed GOD to change me and mold me all along to be able to embrace any suffering that comes my way but be more like Him through it all, would I have done it?”

If your answer is “Yes, but it’s never too late”– well, then you are in a very good place, my friend.

It might hurt a little. But the rewards and the blessings that come as a result of it far outweigh any of that ugly stuff.

He has us in His mighty hands. Let us submit and allow God to be God. Let us say Yes day in and day out. Not yes and no, but simply….YES!

He most certainly has said “yes” all the way to us.

masterpiece-1

 

 

 

Advertisements

I Don’t Do Crazy Well ~ Do You?

cat-45761_640

Crazy is not my forte. How about you, friend?

As I sit here this morning ~ praying, weeping, laughing ~ this thought came to me:

“Why don’t I do crazy well? After all, it’s like an appendage to me. It’s even bigger than that ~ it’s ingrained into me and runs through every single cell of my body! I’m 48 years old. You’d think I would have gotten used to it by now!”

I accepted a long time ago that crazy is just somehow determined to be a part of Annie. It has a mind of it’s own and it’s a twisted one, at that. It’s a part of me and there’s no way to run from that fact.

But I only accepted the reality of it’s existence. I have never been able to quite accept that it’s there and make best friends with it. And there’s a good reason for that. It’s because I am a Child of God.

NO. Crazy is not my bestie.

So, although I am not deep and close friends with Crazy, I’m not necessarily an enemy with it either. I was for a long, long time. It made for a constant state of war within me that led to no new growth. I still wage war all the time, friends ~ make no mistake about that, K? Sometimes Crazy is in that mix during the battle, but the war is no longer just with the Crazy.

But we do fight and argue and bicker ~  a lot!

So Crazy is not my friend, nor is it my one, sole enemy. It just IS. And I don’t do things well in our relationship a lot of the time.

I know who the real enemy is and the disguise is NOT WORKING.

Sometimes I am quite baffled by the fact that our relationship suffers. You would think with a constant companion, you would get to know and understand one another better and reach some compromise as to how to co-exist peacefully.

Not with this girl though.

The only conclusion I can draw (because Crazy is moving aside for a moment here), is that maybe we don’t do Crazy well for several reasons.

Maybe Crazy is there for a reason?

  • It keeps me uncomfortable living in this body, this flesh, this convoluted mind and this world.
  • It keeps me from becoming totally numb.
  • It challenges me.
  • It causes me (most of all) to seek God and HIS wisdom (because I don’t trust my own).
  • It causes my mind to whisper constantly “test this, test this, test this. ~ make sure what and who you are listening to here.”

Yes.  Even CRAZY can be used by God!

Friends, we aren’t meant to be Crazy any more than we were meant to be sinful. We were meant for peace. We were meant for total relationship with God and not to have all this junk to sift through in our hearts and minds.

But man is imperfect now ~ that was part of what happened in the Garden of Eden. Until we get to heaven, we are going to have Crazy to contend with. And sin. But the battle has already been won.

But God has already done the winning for us!

But God is here with us now.

So I say “so what” if Crazy is too. I stick out my tongue to Crazy today. “Naa Naa Naa Naa Boooo Booo!”

Yes, God is bigger than Crazy. God is bigger than all the stuff Crazy does that is not good in our lives. God’s voice is more clear, and true and right ~ ALWAYS.

Trust Him with me in the midst of Crazy today, won’t you?

Don’t ever allow your acceptance of the fact that Crazy is here to stay until we go home to live with the Lord forever, to mean that you have to get comfortable with it.

You don’t. You shouldn’t. You have decided with me not to kick back with Crazy.

We don’t do Crazy well, but Crazy is here to stay a while. Let’s allow God to deal with that stuff ~ ‘Cause He makes ALL things work together for our good, friends!

So if you find yourself distraught, because you think that if you could just “do crazy well” that the war within you would be ceased, know this: It is a blessing if you don’t do crazy well! It means you are doing it right!

Do not cave in to Crazy. It is not the winner here.

Peace will be there for us in the midst of Crazy if we listen to the Lord. It doesn’t always make Crazy go away ~ it just simply overpowers it and puts it in it’s place, friends.

He can and will conquer even Crazy.

It’s a promise.

“But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear or harm.” Proverbs 1:33

cat-525238_640

 

 

With all Your Heart – Joy Series Part 2

forrest-gump[1]

I can do all things through Christ[  who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I don’t know if the character, Forrest Gump was meant to be portrayed as a believer in Jesus Christ. But I do know that Forrest displays a child-like enthusiasm, zest, and joy for life that reminds me so much of what Christ encourages us to emulate in life.

I wish I could be like Forrest in most of what he does in the movie. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?!  Everything he did, he did with all his heart, all his focus, all his elbow grease that he could muster. And much of what he touched just seemed to turn to gold.

Forrest displays a joy and love for life – the ups, the downs, the in-betweens. He lives moment-by-moment, giving each second all that he has. This is what makes him such a magical and lovable character. That inner joy. That purity. That innocence of spirit. Being like a child, but working harder than most adults I know.

Let’s be like Forrest when we endeavor to try new things that may, at first, appear difficult for us. Let’s try and believe we can do it, and shrug it off when it doesn’t quite go our way.

If after giving it our very best, we can move on to the next piece of chocolate in the box.

Running towards Jesus.

Because He is the box. Unlike the chocolates contained within it, He is what holds it all together – He is unchanging. He is our stability.

Notice: Forrest holds tightly to the box throughout the movie. He may let the feather float and fly at the end, but that box was the common thread that held it all together – truly.

God has it all under control. It’s not up to random chance or luck; the things that we experience in life. We have only to hold onto Him all the way through.

At the end of this life, our earthly experiences may float away like a feather in the wind, but we shall still be held tightly in His arms if we have followed after Him and accepted Him as our Savior. And we shall reside with Him for all eternity.

If there is something today you feel is difficult for you to do, just try to give it your all like Forrest Gump. But remember to ask Jesus for the power to do so.

Then, we can ALL be true winners of the sweetness in Christ we were meant to savor all along the way!

Can I Tell You Right Now?

18207_484610894895015_270059496_n[1]

Can I tell you right now?

Open….

Can I tell you right now?

Waiting….

Can I tell you right now?

I’m listening….

Can I tell you right now?

Understanding…

Can I tell you right now?

Empathy…

Can I tell you right now?

Relating…

Can I tell you right now?

Loving…

Can I tell you right now?

Helping…

Can I tell you right now?

Intervening…

Can I tell you right now?

Translating…

Can I tell you right now?

Conveying…

Can I tell you right now?

Just Keep Praying.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray
for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too
deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV

993788_10151556917494079_2064528646_n[1]

Magnificent…and More.

As I was speaking with and listening for God today, I kept coming back to the same word again and again and again.

Magnificent.

I took the liberty and pleasure of looking up all of the words we use in our language to describe this wonderful trait.

Magnificent means – Glorious, Wonderful. Characterized or attended with brilliance or grandeur

HE is magnificent. Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Arresting, brilliant, chivalric, commanding, elegant, elevated, exalted, excellent, fine, glittering, gorgeous, grand, high-minded, imperial, imposing, impressive, lavish, luxurious, magnanimous, magnific, majestic, noble, opulent, outstanding, palatial, plush, radiant, regal, resplendent, rich, royal, splendid, stately, striking, sublime, sumptuous, superb, superior, towering, transcendent

Of course, this is only ONE word that we use to describe our Lord and Savior.

He is without bounds. He is not able to be summed up in a neat box.

He is magnificent….

And He is MORE.

He is ALL.

God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness. Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts. Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking; I compose songs on your wonders. Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness. The fame of your goodness spreads across the country; your righteousness is on everyone’s lips. God is all mercy and grace – not quick to anger, is rich in love. God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace. Creation and creatures applaud you, God; your holy people bless you. They talk about the glories of your rule, they exclaim over your splendor, Letting the world know of your power for good, the lavish splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal; you never get voted out of office. God always does what he says, and is gracious in everything he does. Psalm 145: 3-13 The Message

420134_3155735086747_313672037_n[1]

Sabb What?

rest[1]
Sabbath? Reeeeeaaallllllyyyyyyyyyyy!

Yah, this is where I am being convicted right now – in a big way.

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. Leviticus 23:3

Since I haven’t done a good job of finding my way when it comes to honoring the Lord and being commited to the Sabbath, I have decided to make time for a little bit of Sabbath every day.

Tomorrow, since I am blessed to not have to go to work, I am going to sleep in and then ponder this big idea that God has about taking time apart.  Actually, it’s a command to honor the sabbath, but I have trouble even resting in the Lord on a day-to-day basis still – this is being made clear to me.

I know this is part of why I am in trouble. I also know that one day apart plus some time each evening for devotions is not going to do it.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27

I need to learn to move through each day, one simple day, one simple task at a time. And I need to make big changes – so does my entire family (we are a unit, after all) in order to honor an entire day as sabbath as well.

I thought I had grown in this area. Guess that’s just another reason why my brain is in overdrive, because – well friends –  I thought wrong.

I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know when, or even all the whats or the wheres.

But I do know the why: It’s because He says so.

More to come as to what I learn and how it all shakes out over time. But if you, like me, need to learn how to follow after this important command from the Lord, our God too, I am open to hearing your story, as well as your ideas, struggles, challenges, and triumphs in this area.

Sabbath. Rest. Peace.

Time apart, versus falling apart.

This should be quite interesting.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a
chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and
get some rest.” Mark 6:31

god[1]

Yep! That’s my Husband!

pause-title-screen3[1]

 

So….I think a while ago in another blog post, I may have mentioned that my husband is what you would call a “good ol’ boy.”

He is down to earth, works with water, talks with a twang, and old people – especially old men who like to tell stories, flock to him!

He doesn’t mess around.

As mellow and laid back as he appears to be, he is really quite hilarious. I have mentioned this before too.

When I first started reading up on what to expect when peri-menopause would turn into full-blown menopause, I shared it all with husband. I told him that what I was reserarching said that I would be starving for estrogen, and that the male hormones would be attempting to take over my mind and my body.

Then the brain fog emerged – husband’s response?

“Oh…ha ha….so you’re basically becoming dumb like a man?”

I was beside myself with laughter and still laugh about it to this day.

So last night at church, we were discussing menopause with another couple, and also talking a bit about “man-o-pause” which seems to be a very real thing too – men becoming more “sensitive” as their testosterone wanes in their middle and older age.

I shared with the lady friend in the group that the brain fog is to the point that now I am going to have to look into some other options as to how to deal with it….in jest, she turned to my husband who was joking around and said…”so what’s your excuse?” (He was being a dork and joking around and we were of course making fun of him).

I said maybe he was in man-o-pause.

His answer?

“No….I’m just on pause.”

Buah Ha Ha Ha!!!!

May you be blessed as you begin yet another week – whether menopausal, man-opausal, or just plain “on pause.”

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

jly[1]

The Bird on Pixy Sticks!

Did you know that the Lord actually is pleased when we notice even the smallest of things in His creation? Did you know that it brings Him great joy when we pause, take a moment to ponder such things, appreciate them for what they are, and then praise Him for all of it?

It’s true. He tells us so in the Bible. And I stink at doing this! I can do it with people a lot of the time, but in my immediate “environment” I tend to overlook such things. I tune them out. I’m a distracted little child of God, I am! And this is an area that I think He might want to work on in me. (Ya think?)

My husband, however, is very good at this kind of stuff. Maybe it’s because he works outside, so his awareness of such things is heightened. Maybe it’s because he values and appreciates the things that are right in front of us and I don’t. And maybe it’s because he is far better at tuning out the distracting stuff that doesn’t matter, and tuning in to the stuff that does. I imagine upon meeting the Lord, this will be just one of the many crowns my blessed husband will be receiving from Him ~ the crown for praising God for all His creation and for the little things in life ~ And that is cool.

For many reasons, I think this is an attribute and a discipline to be admired, and one that the Lord particularly values in His children. I think of the story of Mary and Martha, where Mary spends her time at the feet of Jesus, instead of being distracted by all there is to do.

I suppose you can probably guess right now which one is the Martha in this family. Sheesh.

We were walking into the gym the other day and I was, of course, distracted with deep thoughts and the big issues of our culture and world. I was sorting through about ten of these all at once in my heart and mind. Processing, praying, processing again, assimilating, praying, sorting, analyzing, praying – you get the picture. This is how my brain and heart work, and I realize the Lord values this too. God values both Mary and Martha.

But Martha does have a lot to learn from Mary and from Jesus, doesn’t she? And I am thankful the Lord has shown me the areas in which I need to grow.

As we were walking into the gym and I was “making the transition” in my own little mind as to what I needed to focus upon next as we entered those doors, my husband, all of a sudden, starts whistling – really, really loudly.

It got my attention, for sure. I was actually irritated at first. (Big surprise, I know) 🙂

Then I heard it. That thing that I hadn’t even noticed at all, really, until my husband started whistling.

It was a bird, right by the door of the gym and it was singing and whistling LIKE CRAZY!I mean, this bird was going nuts! It was like a bird on pixy sticks. It was like a bird on steroids. It was a very vocal little bird with a very big, big voice!

And, what does my husband do?

He stops whistling and then says, “That bird is really happy.”

And then he just keeps on walking. Just matter-of-fact. Notices the bird. Whistles back to it. Tells me it’s really happy. And then keeps on going about his day.

bird

This may be one of those things where “you had to be there” to see the humor and awesomeness of it all, but I started cracking up! In fact, I was so entertained by this, that I stopped in my tracks and emailed myself (yep) so I’d remember to write a blog post about it later. Ha Ha.

I was laughing for several reasons…

1 – The bird really was going bonkers and it was funny to listen to it.

2 – My husband actually “talked back” to the bird with his own whistling.

3 – The statement my husband made, in his “good ol’ boy, John-Wayne-type” voice was hilarious. He has a really low voice, so to hear him say “that bird is really happy” – well, you probably have to be there, but the only way I can paint the picture for you is to imagine someone like Orson Wells or Morgan Freeman saying that. With no smile on their face whasoever. Just…saying it. Matter of fact. And then walking on.

4 – I am truly lost in space, yo and this entertains me when I look at myself in these situations from the outside in.

5 – As I am experiencing this surreal thing, I am stopping in the middle of it all to email myself.

6 – I am still laughing right now, because I am making this list about why I thought it was funny. That is funny all by itself.

Organization through the random – I have deep, deep problems!

Anyway, I thought I’d share that with you and hope it gives you a good little giggle today.

bird2

If you are more like me, you probably realize we can’t fully change our own intricate thought patterns. But God can ~ when and where they need to be changed ~ and He will…… if we submit to Him.  For now, I don’t believe I am called to be an entirely different way but I could stand to let go a lot more, couldn’t I?

And, there are times we just need to brain dump, you know? There are times we just need to listen to the little birds of the world and their whistling little songs, and appreciate it for what it is – a gift from the Lord.

I do this best when I am writing or when I am running, because through both of these things I do connect with God differently than when I am doing anything else.

However even then, there are distractions going on, aren’t there? The sound of my fingers on the keyboard, background noise, the sound of the treadmill, or music in my ear, or people walking by. The weather outside, the pace I am keeping while running, the pictures I am thinking about inserting into this blog post after it is written. It goes on and on and on….the little ticker tape in my head.

I could stand to go to the hiking trails once a week or so and just make myself walk around and listen. I may need to do just that tomorrow. I can’t do it like hubby – no way, man. I would have to focus upon not focusing. But I can stop and I can listen – in my own little way and with God’s help. It’s about the heart behind it, isn’t it? It’s about doing such things the Lord thinks are good for us in the way that we are able to do them, as His children.

No two children are exactly alike. I think the Lord appreciates that and made us that way too.

How about you? Do you notice the lovely day to day? Do you look for the beauty in things even in the midst of all the distractions of this world? And do you take a moment to stop and thank the Lord for these wonderful gifts? Have you found your own way to notice the lovely and be the child that God created you to be all at the same time?

Sometimes, it’s the smaller things that seem to be more true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praise-inducing, than many other things I spend my thought life on. I just don’t always notice it until someone else points it out to me. This is definitely an area I need my eyes wide opened in – but God knows that too, and I have no question that He is going to help me with this.

Besides that, what I am very grateful for is that the Lord has placed people like my husband in my life to help me to do just that. I appreciate my husband for many things – he truly is a gift from God. But this area is one in which I have to really emphasize in importance, because it is this type of attribute in a person that often goes unnoticed in our world today.

So today, I challenge and encourage you all, just as I do for myself: Don’t try to completely change the way you tend to notice the lovely if you are already doing so. Just try to make sure it is a high priority in your lives. If it isn’t, ask God to help you to change that. If it is, then celebrate it!

Maybe you can whistle like a bird on pixy sticks while you do so!

bird3

Think on These Things

Whatsoever things are true,

Whatsoever things are honorable,

Whatsoever things are just,

Whatsoever things are pure,

Whatsoever things are lovely,

Whatsoever things are of good report;

If there be any virtue,

And if there be any praise,

Think on these things.

Philippians 4:8

They’re Married!

8413196065_fb484f0a2f_n[1]

Thoughts on Discerning Truth…………………

Feeling Good doesn’t always mean Love……………

Legal doesn’t always mean Moral……………..

Visibility doesn’t always mean Truth………….

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  1 John 4:1 ESV

Grace[1]

Thoughts on Grace…………………

God’s Grace is intended for Everyone………….

So is His Love and His Mercy……………….

We are to love everyone even when the truth is ugly………….

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9 NIV

grace-of-truth1[1]

Thoughts on these two things together…………..

Jesus doesn’t display one without the other……………

Is it possible we might be able to do the same?

I think so…………..

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

goldcrosswhite[1]

Say it Loud

JESUS – MIGHTY GOD!!!

GLORIOUS SAVIOR!!!!

WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Image

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8: 36-38

jesusreignssml[1]

What does Love Sound Like?

What does love sound like?

I think it can be heard in many ways, but what is most important is the heart through which it is delivered.

When we sing out with joy to the Lord, what do you think it feels like to Him?

Probably pretty awesome.

Today, whether we are sad, happy, frustrated, energized – no matter what we are, where we are, or how we feel, we can shout out with joy to the Lord.

Do you know why? It’s because His love for us is unending and utterly constant through all of our life experiences, feelings, situations, or circumstances. And we can always praise Him.

Isn’t it wonderful that nothing can take that privilege away from us? He never changes and neither does His love for us. He loves to hear from us any time – and really, as much as possible. We don’t have to come to Him only when we feel awesome.

If today you can’t muster up the energy to audibly shout out with joy to the Lord, you can still do so in your heart. And it will do your own heart good and bring great joy to the Lord, our Father.

He can read our hearts, you know.

And if you can do it with an audible shout of glee, then do it! Maybe you can even help someone else to do so along with you. I bet that really makes Him happy.  🙂

Imagine the sweet sound it will be to His mighty ears.

All the earth. All His children. All to Him.

It’s all a part of what real and true love sounds like – and it speaks volumes as to the fullness of joy and the fullness of life that we have because of Him.

Thank you, Jesus. We love you.

1 Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven, praise him from the mountaintops; 2 Praise him, all you his angels, praise him, all you his warriors, 3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, you morning stars; 4 Praise him, high heaven, praise him, heavenly rain clouds; 5 Praise, oh let them praise the name of God –  he spoke the word, and there they were! 6 He set them in place from all time to eternity; He gave his orders, and that’s it! 7 Praise God from earth, you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps; 8 Fire and hail, snow and ice, hurricanes obeying his orders; 9 Mountains and all hills, apple orchards and cedar forests; 10 Wild beasts and herds of cattle, snakes, and birds in flight; 11 Earth’s kings and all races, leaders and important people, 12 Robust men and women in their prime, and yes, graybeards and little children. 13 Let them praise the name of God –  it’s the only Name worth praising. His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky; 14 he’s built a monument – his very own people! Praise from all who love God! Israel’s children, intimate friends of God. Hallelujah!  Psalm 148  The Message

The Name Above All Names

via 123RF.com

via 123RF.com

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

I have been trying something new lately, and it is making a big difference in my life. You might wish to try it too.  🙂

It sets the tone for my day just as it should.

Because after all, what should be the first thing I think of when I wake up?

What should be that thing that I carry with me every waking moment?

What should it be?

I say the name of Jesus.

I wake up, and I say His name.

“Jesus”

ilikejesus_1024x768[1]

Most of the time, I still only say it in my mind, but I am trying to remember to actually say it out loud.

This shouldn’t be difficult to remember, should it? But I have 46 years of not doing it to reverse out of my groggy morning routined behavior.

But He will help me – my wonderful Jesus. He already has.

“JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!”

via FCI.com

via FCI.com

Guess what else?

Every time I say His name, I smile. From the inside out.

“Jesus.”

The Scripture says of the name:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

via FCI.com

via FCI.com

Say it loud – “JESUS”

Say it clear – “JESUS”

Say it now – “JESUS”

Say it here – “JESUS”

via FCI

via FCI

Believe

wallpaper4God.com

wallpaper4God.com

Wake up

Look up

Drink some coffee

Love a child

Hug readily

Blow a Kiss

Press Closer

Pray

Sing to the Lord

Cheesy Smile

Smell a Flower

Bible Time

Go to the Store

Share

Stranger Love

Heart

Be willing

Be dedicated

Be love

Be

Look Up

Pray

Sing

Smile Again

Take a Walk

Read a Book

Run a while

Nap

Sing in the Car

Be a dork

Listen well

Pray

Embrace Joy

See Jesus

Visit someone

Live today

Wear flip flops

Build a snowman

Breathe

And Pray

Look at babies

Laugh a bunch

Do some kissing

Sky

Be light

Be real

Be true

Be His vessel

Trust

Pray

Believe

Love

Live

Laugh

Joy

Peace

cross

“If you can Believe, all things are possible to him who Believes.” Mark 9:23

gottogiveglory[1]

Gettin’ M’Gear On!

Recently (as in the last two days) my family and I have had a triumph in Christ – the details of which I plan to share in full as soon as I am able. It’s time to rejoice about this special thing, and we are doing just that.

psalm-6410_3473_1280x960-300x225[1]

So as always, this morning I am going to begin it all by asking the Lord to direct my steps and the path He has set before me, because enjoying the fruits that come out of this triumph does not come without some action steps on my part – things the Lord would have me do to do in relation to all of the things involved. But I need to do it along with the help of my Lord – I realize I cannot do it alone. I will rejoice in that as well, but I am pausing each morning to set the day that lies ahead right into His hands…

Christian-wallpaper-Bible-verses-04wallp12[1]

As I have much to do, I must remember that the Lord is the one who will choose the plans and how to go about achieving the goals He has in store. So I shall proceed, most prayerfully, with what I think I am supposed to do, but always remember, that HE, the Almighty and most Sovereign Lord, has the full power….He owns all my “rights”…..He is the Mighty Director. And He can change things any time He sees fit.

Desktop-Bible-Verse-Wallpaper-Proverbs-19-21[1]

I feel excited about this and a huge weight is taken off of me and my family, friends. New things are happening, and I have never really been one to look forward to change – not until it has come to fruition. In this, I am excited about what the Lord is doing right as it is happening. I see the new growth now…..and I know there is more to come. I can enjoy the journey of it all – the trip He is taking us on – instead of only looking forward to the destination. I kind of have a feeling that idea of destination is only partially true anyway when we are walking in the Lord’s will for us. We may land somewhere temporarily, get to hover a while…but He will continue to move us according to  His will.

432-1024-x-768[1]

There is peace to be found in that…in Him. In the midst of all the unknown and the chaos. In the midst of the times in which things will run smoothly – like the well-oiled operation that the Lord is capable of making this part of our journey, and also in the midst of the parts that will be frustrating, chaotic, and just plain hard. It’s His kind of peace. That’s the kind that I am really into, friends. ‘Cause it’s the only kind that’s real.

Philippians-4-7-300x225[1]

I have been warned….the enemy will try to attack, so I will be putting on the full armor of God each and every morning. I will be checking in with Him throughout the day to do the safety check that is always needed with one such as myself. The armor, if kept on, is impenetrable by the enemy. I have a tendency to take pieces of it off at times. So, I pray that the Lord will keep me geared up every step of the way, since I tend to be an undisciplined soldier. I realize to the full, that for me, this starts in the mind. So I am giving that to Him.

the-battles-in-the-mind-belong-to-the-lord-300x225[1]

This is not my darkest valley, but it does entail a lot of unknown. But I am not afraid. AT ALL. I am free from fear right now. I pray the Lord will remind me of this when I start to get a little scared, as I know it will happen. Sometimes it may be a test of faith. Other times it may be a full scale attack or sabotage carefully planned out by the enemy but that comes upon me when I wasn’t looking for it. We can be on guard for what we know to watch out for, and even try to anticipate the element of surprise, but we are not children of the enemy, friends. We don’t think like he does. But instead of this making me afraid, it makes me know all the more how very much I need to trust in the Lord. He has my back….even if or when we get a major or minor injury, He has our backs.

psalm23-300x196[1]

And as much as I know that the Lord has our backs, there will be the need for courage. This kind of courage can only come through Him and reliance upon Him. I look forward to having my backbone tested. I also look forward to the times that I am standing strong and don’t have to undergo much of a test. All of these things are blessings from the Lord and part of His plan to make us the disciples that we need to be. All of it prepares us to be better soldiers for Christ. We don’t know what may be around the corner, friends. Actually, if you read Revelation and follow the news, the truth is that we do know. We just don’t know when. And we need to be prepared. Practicing courage is one way the Lord admonishes us to do just that. And he lets us practice through these small, little life changes that may seem like a big deal to us right now, but that will pale in comparison to some of what may come our way before we leave this earth.

joshua1_9-300x225[1]

There is beauty in that – a kind of beauty I never really saw before. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord continues to open our eyes to things? His truth is not something that we can ever get enough of or fully tap out – it it eternal. And although the Lord is unchanging, we are creatures who are limited in what we can, or are willing to see. We can only take in so much at a time. But when we submit, and when He deems us ready, He reveals new truths to us to enrich us, embolden us, prepare us, and to bless us.

the-truth-shall-set-you-free_493_1024x768-300x225[1]

In all of it, none of this really is what matters most anyway. Because there is only one truth that really is significant and lasting. And that is Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers us. That is Jesus Christ and the blessed hope that we will live with Him forever and reign with Him in a kingdom more glorious than we could ever truly imagine. That is Jesus…Jesus….Jesus, my friends. I love the truth of Jesus Christ.

titus-211_4588_1440x900-300x187[1]

Always remember…even He looked up. He modeled that for us – how truly important it is. To look up and give the glory to God. To look up and ask for guidance. To look up and seek His will and direction. To look up and worship, praise, thank, and bask in awe. To look up for every single thing……big or small, when it’s easy and when it’s not. Because we CAN. If Jesus thought it important….and if HE thought it a privilege, shouldn’t we?

via davidbelcher creationswap

via davidbelcher creationswap

More than anything else, the Lord reminds me that the most important gear of all is love. Let’s get suited up, friends. There is a long day ahead. There’s a lot of love to show. Let’s do this thing!

Jesus, Joy, and Jiggle Jeans!

belly-2473_640[1]

Guess what I did today? I bought bigger jeans – whoo hoo!!!!! Not something you hear most women celebrate about much, right?

Well, Dig this…………………

The other day I mentioned that I had lost a lot of weight over the course of a couple of years. A LOT, as in about 100 pounds. It took about two years to lose the weight, and I have now maintained that loss for an additional 18 months. (By the way, this was all Jesus’ doing, I kid you not!) So, this is not a brag post – I have a point  here! But you must know by now, that it takes me a while to get around to it…hee hee.

Part of what happens when you are a peri-menopausal, middle aged woman who abused her body for as long as I did, is that if you are actually blessed enough to be able to get in shape again; ever reach an “ideal” weight again – if you had that much to lose – you are going to be left with a lot of loose skin – it won’t matter what you do – shy of surgery, it’s going to be there.

Surgery is not happening for me, friends – no way. I am not judging whether or not that is right for other people, but for me – in light of the spiritual aspect of how this all played out in my life specifically, that is not where it’s at. And I have no problem with that.

thumbs

This is not about looks – but it is about “comfort.” The loose skin bothered me for quite some time, and it still does once in a while. But it bothered me more than anything else, because it isn’t comfortable in clothes. Neither is being 100 pounds overweight.

But see, when I was that heavy, although it was just a bunch of “fat”, things weren’t “loose”……it was firm fat – or it gave off the sense of feeling firm, I should say. It provided a false sense of security, friends. I felt “full” with that fat in there. I knew it was bad for me, and yes, there were aspects of that that were uncomfortable as well, but when it comes to that feeling of fullness, it was there. And I was in all actuality, a very empty woman. (And it wasn’t because of the weight issue)

Losing the fat made me feel a lot better physically, but for a while, it was weird. It was hard to adjust to less of me in other ways. It was strange to get a take on where I was at, physically, in time and space. For example, I walked around for a while with far less bruises, because I wasn’t as large and didn’t bump into things as much or fall down and slip as much as when I was heavier. But after a while, as I got even smaller, that inverted – I actually couldn’t gauge where my body was in relation to things as well as before; how close I was or wasn’t to that corner of that table. So, it took a while to figure out the logistics of it all.

compass

Back to the skin though. So, I lost the weight, and found I needed a new wardrobe, right? So, little by little, I started to buy my jeans, mostly at the consignment shop that I love, since it’s cheap and jeans aren’t. And I found that I really, really liked the jeans the more fitted they were. This isn’t for the reason one might think, either. It wasn’t because I wanted to look “hot” in my new jeans, although it did feel good to be more physically appealing to my husband with my newfound shape. It wasn’t because I wanted to flaunt anything about how I looked at all. It was because the fitted jeans made me feel more safe and secure – they held in the residual jiggle the loose skin was causing.

I am not saying there is really anything wrong with that, but I have noticed something lately – maybe over the last three months or so. I don’t like that feeling any more. I don’t like the feeling of the tighter, more fitted jeans, even the ones that are still worn with taste and not showing anything off. I am not saying I wouldn’t still wear a pair of them here or there, but I am finding that I am gravitating to a looser feel again.

The jiggle is still there – just like I said. And when I wear the looser things, it is exacerbated. But I feel better when I don’t try to hold it all in anymore. I am not only okay with that, but I am starting to prefer it. In fact, if I could, I would probably move from jeans to pajamas all the time at this point. No Problema!

Young Woman Stretching

You may think I am crazy, but this is exactly indicative of where I need to be at in my walk with the Lord. I need to be okay with the jiggle in life – more okay than I am now, at least. I need to not need that security blanket of the world – the false one that anything of it offers to us – just like the more fitted jeans. Jesus is my only security – He is it.

As Christians, we must be willing to risk….and it can be hard when we are intent on keeping things reined in when it comes to sin in our lives, discipline, obedience to the Lord, and all the other stuff we don’t want to be lax about. At the same time, I truly believe we are called to “let it all go” or “let it all hang out” sometimes, for lack of better phrasing. In other words, our very endeavor at times to keep it reined in, is what actually binds and restricts our spiritual growth. We do need to be vigilant about sin, but not in our own power (trying to do it without God’s help), lest we begin to attribute too much of our success in those areas to ourselves. We don’t even know what tomorrow will bring – I am reminded of that all the time.

  • “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:16
  • “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Proverbs 27:1

There is only one thing to boast about……….

  • Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31

But we must also be careful not to confuse boasting with rejoicing. Rejoicing in the Lord and what He has done is okay any time!

  • “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

The difficulty lies in the fact that we need to do both. I need to stay fit because my body is a temple and it should to be offered up as a living sacrifice unto the Lord – and I want to rejoice in the Lord than He has enabled that! But I also need to remember that none of that should offer me a false sense of comfort, security, or anything else of the like, and that none of it is my own doing! Hmmmm. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda? Or Gonna, Can, and Will? It isn’t a choice – it’s a must for me. It’s also a want, and I am so thankful for that!

You know, as I reflect on this, I realize that the Lord really helped me to stay aware during the process of weight loss about not allowing it to become a false idol. There were a couple of patches where it was teetering on the line sometimes, but He always graciously drew me back. I am so grateful to Him for that. Even when we are successful in something, the Lord can still use it to “grow” us. We don’t have to experience failure to grow and draw even closer to Him, even though we do sometimes, and He grows us through those setbacks too. I love that about God, amongst everything else He is: That He makes the most of us and grows us through our success stories and through the ugly stuff too.

Isn’t that just awesome?

gospelgifs.com

gospelgifs.com

So, thankfully, Jesus allows me to continue to jog, and run, and exercise to stay fit. I love that feeling of a good run, where you sweat all the junk out, and then your muscles feel warm, and you feel strong. But I know that is not what makes me strong. And that jiggle that is still left behind is a gift to me, friends. Because it is a constant reminder of the grace the Lord shows me in so many ways, each and every day. He has shown it through the weight loss, and He shows it through all of life. Most of all, He has shown it through the gift of salvation He has graciously bestowed upon me and the blessed hope that one day, we shall reign with Him in heaven for all eternity.

I love my new jeans, friends. They feel great! And that jiggle? It isn’t bothering me much anymore. I feel free – free in my Jesus, and free in my jiggle jeans.

I think I will go do a little Joyful Jesus Jiggly Jig right now in my new Jiggle Jeans, yo! Won’t you put on your dancing pants and dance with Jesus and with me today? Let’s get this party started, friends! And then….let’s keep it goin!

dance2

“Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and
harp.” Psalm 149:3

blessedspin[1]

So Glad

Via TheChristianWallpapers.com

Via TheChristianWallpapers.com

So glad He is love

So glad He reigns above

So glad He’s more loyal

So glad He’s the royal

So glad He loves better

So glad for His letter

So glad that He tames

So glad I’m not stained

So glad He creates

So glad for new slates

So glad that He chooses

So glad we aren’t losers

So glad He’s the father

So glad that I’m smaller

So glad that He came

So glad He heals lame

So glad He saves sin

So glad He lives within

So glad He’s so great

So glad it’s not too late

So glad He is risen

So glad He is living

So glad for the time

So glad that He’s mine

So glad He gave brothers

So glad He saved others

So glad He is love

So glad we’ll be above

So glad for His hope

So glad for cut ropes

So glad I am free

So glad He saved me

So glad He loves souls

So glad we, He holds

So glad He is all

So glad all in all

Hans via Pixabay

Hans via Pixabay