Category Archives: Encouragement

Because misery loves company….

This was my day yesterday.

And will be a healthy portion of my day today…so follow along for a lesson in technology…because in order to reduce ALL my photos on this little oversized website…from  what you see right there to…

what you see right here…

I had to do …

as to make sure I preserve things like…

because….whew…we wouldn’t want to let this kind of photographic treasure to be lost in cyberspace, now would we?

But seriously…as I monotonously clicked through the steps for…Are you ready???…2,600 photographs that attached to this here little journey I have taken you all on over the last few years…I had a lot of thoughts running through my head.

So here are just a few of them…

<3 Wow…what a ride it has been. Not just getting the opportunity to pursue this thing that has scared the living daylights out of me just going public with so many private parts of me in hopes of sending out some words of hope, comfort, exhortation, humor, life-stuff from my heart and God’s Word…but the whole sometimes-messy, often-crazy, surprisingly joy-filled life God has blessed our family to live.

<3 I was also struck by how vivid my memories were attached to each photo…whether it’s cups of coffee or a beautiful presentation of a meal or a random photo of a some flowers on one of my walks, I didn’t look at a single picture and wonder about the story behind it.

Like this one…

was the day a blizzard was going to keep Lola from coming to visit and this guy got busy dressing warm and grabbed his mommy’s wallet so they could just come to me.

Still get big old sloppy tears thinking how I considered strapping on snow shoes just to get to him.

But here’s the thought that adds some insight into maybe your life today…

<3 As I went through all the steps sooooooooooo many times…it was tedious and repetitive and mind-numbingly boring at times.

I would go back to the ones remaining and think of the hours I had put in and how many hours were left to go and it took everything in me to fight the urge to just quit.

And then this terrible thought struck me.

What if it doesn’t work?

What if all this time I have put in to this task does not accomplish what needs to be done?

You see, if it works out the way it is supposed to and my site is blissfully unencumbered by unnecessarily excessive data…well…all the effort is worth it.

But if it doesn’t.

Oh my goodness…

And it made me think how much of life is like that.

If my motivation for sticking it out is for the satisfaction I will gain from the success of my desired result, I will end up short so many times.

But if my motivation comes from obedience to follow through the tasks I have been given..to fulfill the purpose for each day by being in that moment, doing that thing…whatever it is and whatever the outcome…all for the glory of God…well…

that changes everything.

So I will finish those picture edits today, in between loads of laundry that we are just going to wear and throw back in the bin tomorrow…I will prepare food and then exercise to counteract the calories…I will dust and vacuum the same particles I tried to vanquish yesterday…I will drag out my journal and start outlining a lesson for Sunday and along the way I will tap out some more thoughts for you for tomorrow…and I will do it… in obedience…all to the glory of God <3

I have no guarantees that the time I spend on any tasks will have any lasting effect.

But sure as heck…if I didn’t do them…there would be some serious setbacks for those plans and purposes God prepared in advance for me to do.

So let’s do the thing…even if it’s repetitive and boring and we just did it yesterday and here we have to do it again today.

Let’s do it and do it well, shall we?

How about you?

What’s your Kingdom plan today?

Be blessed as you carry it out…step by step, piece by piece…byte by byte  <3

A different perspective on being overwhelmed

Do you use the expression “overwhelmed” much?

I do.

It is a good description of me most days around 3 P.M. when I stack my tasks left undone up against hours left to accomplish them and feel overwhelmed by a sense of defeat.

Or when I take a good hard look at all the hard bad news and I am overwhelmed by the evil and insanity of a world system gone haywire.

I can be overwhelmed sometimes by my own capacity to misunderstand people I love and to be unable to cope with life settings that others seem to sail through with not a glitch in sight.

And I am pretty sure that all of these bouts of being overwhelmed are NOT fruit of the abundant life promised.

So my ears have perked up lately at a phrase that either is in the lyrics of one of our new hymns, or was offered as a mediation by the worship leader one Sunday, or mentioned in a sermon a different Sunday or showed up in one of the gazillion devotions I have read in the past few weeks…or knowing God…showed up in several places as He is prone to repeat messages I need to hear until they finally sink in.

And, so like Him…it is simple and short and to the point so that I can actually remember it….

God overwhelms whatever it is that is overwhelming  me.

Think about it.

Overwhelmed…I looked it up, of course….because that’s what I do.

And Webster’s gives the fullness of the feeling in the wording of its definition.

Even at it’s root in Middle English, the redundancy of meaning is clear…it comes from blending two words:

over + whelmen, to turn over, cover up…so basically to  cover over, over something…to cover up over it…to overthrow, upset; cover over completely…submerge.

And the picture I get is the emotional and spiritual equivalent of playing in the surf and suddenly one of those breaker waves comes that knocks me off my feet. The surge not only covers me with water, but completely disorients me physically and emotionally.

Tossed and pulled, my nose is filled with burning salt water…my knees scrape across the rough sand as I try to gain my footing and as I fight to get upright so I can breathe oxygen instead of the sea, I flounder against the power that is greater than me.

And that’s how I feel when I am overwhelmed.

So whoever has played a part in giving me a new perspective, I thank you with a grateful heart for opening my spiritual eyes to yet another name for God…

The God who Overwhelms that which overwhelms me.

What a beautiful picture throughout the day when I am feeling submerged under some powerful force.

To lift my eyes above what I am “feeling” and to see that the circumstance or the habit, the sin or the sorrow, the angry shouts or the slanderous whispers…all of these that would threaten to submerge me in defeat…have been covered over completely by God.

To literally picture the “thing” that is pressing down on me being completely wiped out by the majesty and righteousness of God.

I don’t know what forces have power over you, but I pray today each of us will hold fast to the promise that there is nothing greater than our God.

I pray the only thing we feel overwhelmed by, submerged in, covered over-over with is His deep love for us…His mighty power at work in us…His Sovereign reign over us…His steadfastness holding us …wave after precious wave. All day long  <3

 

 

 

Fools rush in…

Good morning <3

I am in the book of Proverbs now as my readings continue through the Chronological Bible.

This version of Scripture lumps the sayings of Solomon and such into themes and one of the sections today was on “rashness.”

It addresses the folly of rushing into a setting and airing opinions and assessments without the recommended counting to ten…or a hundred…or a thousand.

Well, actually it recommends more taking our rants and vents to God FIRST before we march into the boardroom or the kitchen or the committee meeting and sound off about what we see as needing correction.

I think we see this attitude prevailing from our media, both social and news related, more and more.

A kind of in-your-face confrontational approach to calling out what is perceived as unrighteousness.

And have mercy…often it is not based on a standard of truth, but rather on some popular opinion or movement.

As Christ-followers, we can see this so clearly in worldly settings, but are we as sensitive to it within the Body of Christ?

When something is being done within the context of our church and church family, are we acting more like the world as we seek to confront it? (And I am NOT talking about issues of blatant sin and wrong-doing that can happen within a church, so don’t take your mind down that rabbit trail!)

Are we responding with a  Holy Spirit-led/Holy Spirit-filled speaking out? Or with an almost arrogant plowing down of anyone and everyone who does not agree with us approach?

Let’s look at Proverbs for a minute..

What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?    Proverbs 25:8

This one speaks to me of how we can see things that look like wrong-doing, but we may not have all the information and facts. Sometimes we are jumping to conclusions and if we do not pause a moment to take in the whole picture, the truth revealed once we have pressed our pre-determined verdict on someone or some situation could prove rather embarrassing.

A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. Proverbs 14:16,17

Here we see two characteristics of a wise person. This one fears the LORD and steers clear of evil.

It’s both of these which allow the wise person to recognize something that looks to be wrong, and yet turns to the sovereignty of the LORD first before reacting.

If we confront wrong-doing with a knee-jerk reaction we will basically be acting like a…well…a jerk.

One more….

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11

This one reminds me that when I get hot and bothered about something, it is wise to take it to the Lord first in prayer and conversation.

Key word being conversation, because as I talk to Him about what is troubling me in a situation; I also need to listen to His side.

Because sometimes it is not so much an offense to His Righteousness that is the issue.

Often, as I bring my complaint before Him, I realize it is, in fact, my own indignation over what I perceive to be the violation of my “rights” in a situation that has me riled up.

In our town, we have an intersection that is currently holding the record for accidents due to people running red lights.

A dear friend of ours just recently, thanks be to God, escaped unharmed physically from such an incident…yet his truck, not so much.

But many other intersections here in town are competing to become #1, as drivers increasingly seem to consider a yellow light as an indicator to rev the engine and barrel on through.

Other cars follow suit and the results can be devastating.

We, who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ,do not want to be…physically, emotionally or spiritually…like those who see a warning as an invitation to blast forward.

We want to see the warning signs of wrong-doing as God’s discernment kicking in and use these as opportunities to slow down, get serious in prayer…and then proceed with His leading.

Be blessed today.

Be pro-active to seek wise decisions at all the intersections you will face today.

Remember always…you are loved and led and held by GRACE <3

 

Monday and snow flurries….again…

Happy start o’the week to you.

Russ peeked through the curtains this morning as he was leaving for work and sighed heavily. I told him to please tell me there was not snow on the ground.

So he silently nodded and began gathering his keys and phone….yep…we have a dusting of it yet again.

And I shouldn’t complain as our relatives in the north were having to gas up the snow blower over the weekend so there is that…

because it’s mid-April and we should be…

But no.

So here are some random thoughts to kick off our week and then I am going to continue with spring cleaning because, by golly, it’s Spring-o’clock somewhere, right????

Random #1

During one of the praise songs at church yesterday, I had this vision come into my mind of just all different kinds of flowers…shy little violets, often unwanted yellow dandelions, exotic bird of paradises (not sure how you pluralize that one), delicate pansies, sturdy geraniums, stately sunflowers.

And I thought how each holds it’s own beauty.

I pictured them scattered all over the globe, lifting their lovely faces to the sun and it made me think…how like us.

Each beautifully and wonderfully created by God.

Each, hopefully, lifting our faces to Him and just existing for His pleasure and glory.

I thought of Jesus referring to the lilies in the field and how Solomon in all his glory…decked out in all his finest and richest attire could not compare to the beauty of God’s creation of the lily.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made and so is everyone around you.

Some are of the sturdy beauty and others more fragile.

Some pop up unexpected to bring color to manicured lawns and some are scattered wild across the edges of fields out in the middle of nowhere…

all lovely in His sight.

Random #2

Checking in on that Simplify theme for 2018 and holding myself accountable four and a half months in.

I am finding a measure of success in the application of this Word of the Year, so far, by taking seriously the revelation of my tendency to over-complicate E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. due to my inability to make quick decisions.

One tactic I have found helpful is forcing the discipline of eliminating or narrowing decisions whenever possible onto my wandering mind.

The only way I have found to achieve this is to heartily incorporate prayer to keep my feet and hands on task throughout the day.

While staying on course may not be a problem for some, it is a constant struggle for me.

But with the help of the Holy Spirit guiding me, I have begun to catch myself in the act of procrastination.

I see God working in me to notice when I am starting an activity that is unproductive in an effort to avoid doing something less appealing and I also notice that as He keeps my “hand to the plow,” the work becomes easier and more efficient.

I hear that still, small voice more often now…asking me…”Is this activity going to help you accomplish your goals today, or is it stealing time from you?”

This is incredibly effective at keeping me from some of my old time-wasting habits.

The bonus on this is that I am less distracted and more energized, which leads to more good choices throughout the day.

Did you have a “word” for this year?

How are you doing with it?

Random #3

Some of you all have been so kind to ask how my back and foot are doing and I love you for it…because that’s what I hope this spot to be…you and me … connecting…you and you all…connecting…but anyway…

My back is improving immensely once I started doing the stretches my awesome chiropractor and friend gave me several years ago.

I do a series of about six stretches for my neck plus fifteen for hip flexor and back twice a day. The difference they have made in my back AND my plantar fasciitis have given me a new lease on life!

Just like that smart doctor told me they would all along.

I was putting them off because I simply didn’t make time for them even though they don’t take that long.

*See Random 2, because I stopped making them a “choice” to schedule in and they are now just part of my morning and evening routine.

So that’s what I have for this Monday.

Hope you have a great start to your week wherever you are <3

 

 

And speaking of birds…

 

Spring has possibly arrived here in the Midwest.

 Although, if the forecasts are correct, it will still be a roller coaster of seasons for the next few days as we swing from the 70’s to the 40’s with a sprinkling of rain. 

I know I talk frequently about our grands, but honestly…they bring a dimension to our lives that I was just not expecting. 

And that first one still gets to me somewhere deep in my spirit after almost seven years of life with him. 

Maybe it is because he is our first.

Or maybe it’s the intensity of those green eyes, ringed in grey and sprinkled with hefty doses of amber, that always seem to look past my face and into my soul. They seem to add poignancy to most conversations with him. 

So it was this past weekend when he, along with the band of brothers and Sweet Caroline, came for a visit with mommy while their daddy was at work. 

As they played in the living room, he took notice of a little wooden bird house I had put on the hearth with some other spring items before Easter. 

He recognized it as one he and his dad had made for me. Just to make sure he remembered correctly, he picked it up and checked the back. 

Sure enough there was the black marker lettering his mommy had added….

I had tied a pretty ribbon on it when he gave it to me and it has come out every Spring to help chase the last of the Winter trim back down to the storage closet. 

I thought he would be pleased I still had it.

Instead those eyes I mentioned above turned and looked right into the deepest parts of his Lola and he asked me… 

Lola, how many?

How many of what I wasn’t sure, so I asked him what he meant.

How many birds have made a nest in it?

I answered…none…no birds had ever been near it.

Why?

I stammered around trying to explain that I had wanted to keep it nice…how I had always just kept it inside because if I put it out in a tree, the weather and the sun and the birds would ruin it.

And then this little man-child… who basically holds his Lola in the palm of his hand since she first laid her own grey-ringed blue with flecks of amber eyes on him…spoke to me as if I was the child…

and he said…

Lola, it’s a bird HOUSE…it’s supposed to be for birds to live in. That’s what it’s for.

Well…he had a point.

So I promised to hang it in a tree and on Monday morning, once the silly snow melted and the grass was clear, I made good on my vow. 

I untied that pretty little bow and I hung it out there on a low branch of the tree right in front of the house. 

I stood and watched it swing from the branch and I cried a little thinking how the rains and the dust from the fields and the hot summer sun of the Midwest is going to wreck that sweet little bird house. 

I took a picture and sent it to him and I know he will look for it the next time he comes and he will want to see if any birds made a nest there. 

And I can’t help but wonder if God might just be whispering through the wisdom of a child to this old heart of mine that holds on to things and people a bit too tightly in hopes of preserving and protecting them from the wear and tear of life. 

Maybe the beauty was never in the appearance of the vessel itself, but in the fulfillment of the purpose for which it was made.

Always something new to learn as we journey onward <3