Tag Archives: Jesus

The “Perfect” Valentine……Really???

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I am a Valentine’s Day hum bug.   I guess it all started when I was a kid making Valentine boxes to sit on my 3rd grade school desk.   I rarely ever got as many Valentines as everyone else did.    But to not totally diss that class full of fellow 8 year olds, they may not have even known I was in their class.  I was so shy…I rarely spoke to anyone.

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Then there were all those horrific teenage Valentine’s Days.   You know the ones.    You really like him, but he really likes her.  And you’re not her.   In all my teen years, I remember getting a Valentine from a boy exactly once.   He got me a cute little stuffed bear I named “Buff”.   This boy liked me because I looked good in a bathing suit.     Ugh!

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Then there are the adult Valentine’s Days.  “Singles Awareness Days” are brutal.   All your friends have dates and you’re home alone with  a sappy movie and a gallon of Moose Tracks,thoughts of the perfect man running through your pretty head.      Even after we find Mr. Right and live out our days happily ever after with him, we often become painfully aware of Mr Right’s imperfections….(and just to be fair, he very likely becomes all too aware of our imperfections as well.)       I wonder if we are just hard-wired to always be seeking the perfect one  so that we’ll ALWAYS be seeking that Perfect One? Hmmmm…..

You know the one?    He’s truly perfect in every way.    And I don’t mean to brag, but y’all, I’ve found him and he’s taken a bit of the “humbug” out of my hard Valentine heart.   He’s mine and I am his.    At first glance, you may not think he’s all that…but let me assure you, he is truly beautiful!

He loves me just as I am…..flaws and all.    In fact, he proclaimed his love for me well before I did the same.   He pursued me like crazy and never gave up on me.  His love is relentless and pure.  He’ll NEVER give up on me…and I believe him.

And now that he has me, he hasn’t marked me off his list of “claimed pursuits”, pushing me aside for the next best thing. He will faithfully love me forever.    In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand how deeply he loves me. He tells me all the time that nothing can ever separate us.   Nothing I do will ever make him  love me less.   He doesn’t care if I’m grumpy or hormonal or “look fat in that dress”.     He just loves me.

He always takes care of me….always.   He does this because I love him…but mostly because he loves me so much.    He’s the perfect provider and he never has to guess what I need.  He just knows.   He’s my “knight in shining armor”, keeping me safe and protected.    I feel so safe with him.

He’s compassionate and thoughtful and present.   He calls me a princess.   He makes me a better person….stronger, braver.

If He had been in my 3rd grade class, He would’ve stuffed the little box on my desk full of little heart shaped cards with Snoopy on them.   The “Yes” box would’ve been checked .

Quite simply, He’s the perfect Man.   Nobody will ever come close to His perfection.  He’s the best “Valentine” I’ve ever had or ever will have……and He can be yours too!

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But There’s No Snow!

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He was 3 ½ and finally at that age where he understood what Christmas was all about. Or at least that’s what I thought! When I woke him up that Christmas morning…..yes, I’ve actually had to wake up kids on Christmas morning….he took one look out the window and decided I had completely pulled his leg.

“Mommy, it’s not Christmas! There’s no snow!”

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He actually then attempted to crawl back into bed! Yep….not making that up. My 3 ½ year old child had to be coerced into traversing the stairs down into the living room where Christmas had exploded all over the place. His first “sign” of Christmas had failed. He had no reason to believe Santa had actually shown up because, well, how in creation would Santa’s sleigh traverse the dry, dead grass that covered our yard and everyone elses. He simply needed to see to believe.

Faith had yet to give him vision.

Four hundred years had passed. No word from God. No burning bushes. No parting seas. No visits from angelic strangers. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. This world was God-silent for 400 years. Y’all…that’s a L O N G time!! It’s many, many lifetimes. Many generations. I’ve gone through periods of my life where I felt God was ignoring me or wasn’t there…..but it was a period of a few months. Not years. I always managed to crawl my way back to Him only to find He really never left my side. During that 400 year period so many years ago, God was just silent. I can only imagine how the people during that time felt. And I don’t imagine it was pretty. How many let their faith completely fall because there was no evidence of God’s presence ? How many worshiped other things since God was not around? How many lead lives desperate for something more, something Bigger than them?

Faith needed to give them vision.

And I have to wonder, how did anyone manage to hang on to the faith of their predecessors with so many years of God silence? It would be so much easier to slip into the ways of the world and totally forget the things of faith.

But then it happened to a family who had somehow managed to not let too much of their world sneak in and damage their hearts. A family who had managed to hang on to their faith and find favor with God…

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“The time came quiet…

All the glory had been left in heaven.

And the face of God turns one last time in the waters of the womb, and the membrane breaks and the amniotic fluid leaks and the skin of God slips naked and small into holy hands He made.

The birth of God – who can find words?” ……(from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp)

The years of God silence were broken by the cries of a baby. And our faith was given vision once again. Through a baby who would be King. A baby who would save. A baby whose life would show the world for the rest of eternity how to love…how to hope.

On this Christmas, know that whether there is snow on the ground or not, whether there are copious amounts of gifts under the tree for you or just one, whether you are surrounded by family or it’s just you, the only true sign of Christmas is all around us.

Emmanuel…God with us. God around us, waiting with open arms to lavish his love on you not only this Christmas but every…single…day!

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The Waiting Game

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“Men trust God by risking rejection. Women trust God by waiting.”
― Carolyn McCulley

Waiting.

I’ve been doing lots of that lately. And as I sat down to start writing about “waiting”, I did a little Google search to find stats on how much time we spend waiting in a lifetime. Didn’t find anything I liked there. But I did stumble across this quote. I have no idea who Carolyn McCulley is but I’ve learned she’s an author. I know nothing about her except that she penned this quote…this quote that struck me as so true at this particular time in my life.

Because you see, I’m waiting for something life changing to happen in my life right now. But you’ll have to wait to find out what that is! Because there are so many things in my life I’ve spent time waiting on that I need to ponder for a sec…

That first kiss…

The perfect man…

Love….

My turn to play….

The perfect job…

My turn to move forward in traffic…

My turn to be right….

Achieving a goal…

Being content…

Understanding and embracing all God created me to be and who I am in Him…

In all these things, I’ve waited. Oh I didn’t like the waiting in the moment. We want what we want NOW, don’t we? But eventually, all these things were achieved through the waiting. I’ve prayed for things in my life to happen and sometimes they do….God gives me a big old YES!! Thank You Lord! I’ve prayed for things to happen in my life and they don’t because God put the big “NO WAY” stamp on it. Thank You Lord……yes, I mean that!  (At least in retrospect! ) And I’ve prayed for things to happen that I’m still waiting on…

Waiting seems to last forever, doesn’t it?

My current period of waiting has lasted about 40 weeks and 3 days. Or in “pregnant time”, about 110 years! God put a big old YES on our prayers for another grand child and He put another big old YES on our prayers for a little girl to finally, once again grace our family. It’s been over 20 years since our family last welcomed a baby girl. This BeBe is sorta excited to add some pink things to my life!

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About 3 weeks ago, we began the “Oh she’ll be here any day now” dance. See, big brother came late in his 37th week so we all just assumed that lil sis would follow suit. But God has firmly put His “Let’s WAIT” stamp on Sis. Try as she may, my darling first born has been nothing but unsuccessful in every and all attempts at naturally inducing labor.

An essential oil known to speed up contractions all but stopped them…..see God is in control.

Walking did nothing but make her tired….because God is in control.

That famous Eggplant Parmesan that nearly guarantees the onset of labor in 48 hours was nothing but tasty…..because God hasn’t said it’s time yet.  (Click on that little blue link for the recipe if you want.  This is good whether you’re pregnant or not!)

The full, eclipsed, blood moon was nothing but a spectacular sight …because God said, “Not today”.

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So we’ve waited. And our trust in God has grown because try as we may, nothing in our bag of “stupid human tricks” will ever trump the all out power of God. When everything we do fails, all that’s left is trusting Him. And He’s trustworthy.

So in the waiting, I’ve looked for and have been doused with blessings…

Extra days with my grandson as the “only”…

More play time….

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The sound of my unborn granddaughters beating heart and the hiccups she got before the monitors came off….

Sweet time with my daughters….

Time to see healing continue and strength to get bigger…

A haircut in a taxi cab…..

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This list could go on. Yes, in the waiting I see God. And when I see Him…when I see evidence of His hand in my life…my trust in Him grows.

Waiting’s not so bad after all….

Serial Killer Part 3…Trust Me!!

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It actually started the weekend before. The feeling that something I might not understand was about to go down. That pull to trust and just go with the flow. It came through songs, through radio messages, through a study I was doing. I had no clue why this feeling was so strong…I really just wanted my dumb ears to stop hurting so bad! I wasn’t really in the mood for a weekend retreat. I wasn’t in the mood to try and figure out why I kept getting this “Trust Me” message over and over. I wasn’t in the mood to be my sweet normal self around friends, old or new. I just needed this ear infection to go away. I was plagued with these babies all the time. In fact, if I had BEEN a baby and not a grown woman in my mid 30’s, I’m sure I’d have needed tubes in my ears. It was bad.

But I stood there on that Saturday afternoon in a room full of strangers. Strangers who I considered in my narrow minded, ear infected attitude as being “odd birds”. No, they didn’t do things like I did. They raised their hands and closed their eyes when they should’ve been sitting politely with their hands in their laps. They shouted out “Amens” and “Halleluiahs” when they should’ve been quiet and listening . Some of them even spoke in words I didn’t understand…out loud in front of people! It was pure craziness in my mind. This former Catholic girl had never experienced “church” like this before and I wasn’t even AT church. I was at a conference where a well known Christian speaker was doing her best to help us know and love Jesus a bit better. If I hadn’t been with a couple of good friends who were actually enjoying this crazy conference, I would’ve taken my sick little self right on home! But I endured as best I could for the sake of my friends. Plus I had to admit, I DID like the music…the one saving grace in the midst of a bunch of stuff I just wasn’t sure about.

Something WAS about to happen and God had been preparing me for this moment for years.

When I stepped out of myself for the first time and made that God-lead trek across the country, something changed in me. That “do whatever YOU want” attitude died a bit. As I became more aware of waiting for and listening to God’s voice in more and more situations in my life, another thing changed. I realized that all the fears I had embraced in my life weren’t doing me any favors. Most of the fears I had were big fat lies. As I began to learn to move away from that all consuming fear and watched it begin to die in my life, something else began glaring at me. Something else I realized no longer had a place in my life…..

…the box I had so neatly kept God in all my life…

He was about to burst out whether I wanted Him to or not. God was about to let me know loudly and clearly that His time in my box was over.

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We broke for lunch. I was seriously hoping my friends would be ready to go home. I was trying so hard to be strong and not let this ear infection win but sadly, the pain was winning and I’d had enough. Plus I knew that what was happening after lunch at this conference might be more than I could take. I wanted to leave. They wanted to stay because they were actually excited about what was going to take place that afternoon. Healing services were awesome. I didn’t buy it. But I had no car or other means of escape so I was more or less forced to stay.

The lights went down. The music started. I stood there with my arms crossed, so uncomfortable just THINKING about this healing service that was set to begin after the music was over. I started sweating, breathing harder. The anxiety was getting to me. Then I noticed something odd going on center stage…music still playing, people still singing.  It distracted me from my bad attitude.  The speaker at this event walked up to one of the musicians and was whispering something in his ear. I was sure it involved letting him know it was time to get the snakes out or something. But it was nothing like that at all. The band stopped playing mid song to let us know what was going on. It was a simple song change suggested by the conference speaker. She was sure that God wanted this particular song played for a particular person in the crowd. OK…whatever! But then the song started.

It was a tune I had learned the previous weekend … a tune I had never heard before and was CERTAIN our music chick had made up herself. The tune was set to the words God had been banging into my head ALL..WEEK…LONG! I wish I could sing it for you now or even find a YouTube video of the song but this tune was so random I’m not sure it’s ever been recorded. The words,however, are well known….

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on thine own understanding. In all you do, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.”

OH…MY…GRACIOUS!!!

My mouth dropped to the floor. Tears sprang from my eyes!

He had my attention. I opened up the box lid…..but just a smidge.

Still kinda shaken from this simple song, I’m not sure I even realized the THING I was not wanting to be there for had started. One by one, she began to call out ailment after ailment. People ran to the stage to be healed. I was CERTAIN it was all a sham. I felt myself reaching in to close that lid on my God box….it’s funny how quickly I went from “Oh my gracious God just changed that song for ME” to “Oh no You don’t” and slamming the lid again.

But then it happened. That thing that would forever smash the box I’d kept God in forever.

She said it loudly. “Ear Infections” Oh no she didn’t! I WAS NOT going to move from my spot on the back row and be put on display . I stood there , arms crossed once again. But my friend next to me had a bigger faith than I did. She knew I wouldn’t budge so she did something so simple. She reached out and placed her hands on my ears while the room prayed for those suffering from ear infections. And in that moment, I felt it.

The box collapsed with a single POP in my ear.

In that one moment, , my resolve to be hard headed, unchanging and stubborn fell to the floor. If my resolve to keep God in a box had been a real physical thing, the building would’ve shook when it fell from me!

After being ridden with one infection after another, I can say I haven’t had another ear infection since that day. God took away my pain and healed my ears but He did something way bigger that day. He forever escaped the box I had held Him in my entire life.

Y’all God is so much bigger than we ever give Him credit for. He can do so much more than we can ever imagine. As I end this three part “Serial Killer” series, THIS is the most important thing I’ve lost and never gotten back. I lost my little image of God. I’ve lost the fear of allowing God to be BIG! I lost that stubborn resolve that caused me to dictate what God could and couldn’t do in my life. This is how He got my attention. I’d love to hear your own “God is bigger than this box” story if you’d like to share it.

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A Fresh Coat of Paint

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I very recently (like last weekend) finished a rather cumbersome project in my house. Inspired by a dwindling budget and a few too many memories of afternoons watching Trading Spaces, I put on my Super Hero cape, threw away some formerly bad attitudes and tackled what I once saw as impossible. With paint brush and roller in hand and lots of time to just think as I painted, lots of memories came flooding back to me through the paint fumes…

 

When I was a little girl, I got such great joy from a new coloring book and a fresh box of never, used crayons! A blank picture just waiting for me to add my own little twist of color still puts a smile on my face! Some of my first memories include sitting down with my mother as we shared a coloring book. I’d watch carefully as she would first outline each picture on the page with a dark line of the color of her choice. Then she’d either lightly color it in or boldly add color inside what she had so carefully outlined. Her pictures were always awe inspiring to me. I wanted to some day color just like her but I can remember my pictures never looking quite as beautiful as anything my Mom colored.

 

I just knew it was impossible!!

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My love for coloring has carried into my adult life. God gave me a love for color…however, I must’ve had my head in a coloring book when He was passing out true artistic abilities. I can draw a mean stick house complete with a winding front sidewalk surrounded by little flowers. And my little stick family that lives in that little stick house? They’re pretty awesome too! So when some friends and I planned a night of “paint party” fun, I was really excited….until we learned that this masterpiece we were about to paint was going to have very little guidance. Most of those popular “paint party” places offer step by step instructions as everyone in attendance paints the same picture. But the studio we were in, thanks to a great deal on Groupon, was a “ See this picture? Cool! Now paint it” sort of place. Uh oh!

 

I just knew it was impossible!!

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With all this love for making things in my life colorful, it surprises me that for most of my adult life, I have lived in homes where I was begrudgingly content with dull beige walls. For years, I have visited friends homes where every room was a different shade of some magnificent color. I’d leave these beautiful, colorful homes and come back to my monotone walls and sink into my “I can’ts” and “I don’t wanna’s””

 

“I can’t afford to pay someone to paint my house for me”…”I can’t possibly do this myself! I’m afraid of ladders!”…”I can’t find the time to even think about what color to paint”…”I can’t possibly get it all done in a weekend so why bother”…”I don’t wanna do that much manual labor!”…”I don’t wanna get paint on my clothes”…blah blah blah

 

I can’t…

               I can’t…

                             I can’t…

 

I just knew it was impossible!

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As I stood there on the second rung of my step ladder (the third is just too super scary!!) with paint brush and steady hand, cutting in “Mushroom Bisque” or “Green Tea” like the pro I am, it hit me. I had overcome something huge to get to this point.

My S E L F – S T O P P E R!!!

How many times in my life have I known I needed to do something…anything…and excuse after excuse as to why I can’t do it surfaced? I’ve wanted to paint my house since we moved in 8 years ago. But I stopped myself with negative thoughts and fear of falling off ladders, blah de blah de blah. This is just one example. I’ve let negative thoughts stop me from going to back to college in my 40’s. I’ve let negative thoughts keep me from going on mission trips even with thoughts of the precious orphaned babies I could hold and love on while there. I could bawl a bucket of tears thinking of the children I’ve missed ministering to because of my self stopper. My list could continue for days but you get my drift here.

 

Romans 12:21 says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

Was my fear of making a royal mess of my house by painting it myself “evil”? Is feeling I’m too old and dumb to tackle college again “evil”? Is not liking to sweat or having to use bathroom facilities that aren’t up to par while in a foreign country “evil”? Nope…not one bit. But there’s a “but” here and it’s a biggie.  This “baby’s got back”!   (Sorry, y’all but I couldn’t resist!) Those thoughts in and of themselves aren’t evil BUT the one who put those negative thoughts and fears in my pretty little head IS! We have an enemy who is very evil and he enjoys nothing more than to see us fail or not even start something that might possibly bring even an ounce of glory to God.

 

A 50 year old woman finally finishing her college degree would be a huge God thing…at least for THIS 50 year old woman!

 

Mission trips, bringing the love of Christ to those who are orphaned or widowed or needy in any way shines a big old light of glory onto God!

 

And y’all, yes…even this formerly self-stopped painter can bring glory to God through every roll of paint on the walls of my house. It took me 9 weeks to get the main living areas of our house painted. This was a sacrifice of my time. A sacrifice of my energy… I was an exhausted mess at the end of every painting day. But through all this sacrificing, I was wildly reminded of the One who made a much more humungous sacrifice for me. When my arms ached and I didn’t think my feet could stand on that ladder for one more second, I thought of the pain Jesus endured on the cross for this little old Self Stopper. As I sit now and look at the colors we chose to paint our home, I THOUGHT it was inspired by a rug I recently purchased. But there’s more here…

 

My Green Tea bathroom and dining room reminds me of the everlasting life I have in Christ.

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My Mushroom Bisque hallways and living room remind me of the cross.

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My sunny yellow Jackfruit kitchen reminds me that I am Daughter of the One True King, the SON of God!

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And this fabulous Awning Red accent wall that runs across the living room and into the breakfast nook reminds me that Jesus loves me so much that He shed His blood for me . That He saved Me from myself and my sinful nature.

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So take that evil!! I have , at least this once, OVERCOME you with GOOD!

 

Y’all the more we overcome evil with good, the easier it has to become. Right?   The more we do anything, the easier it gets.

So do it!

Paint over that doubt!

Paint over the “I can’ts”!

There’s not much more beautiful  than a fresh coat of paint!

Glory to God!