Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oh, Those Summer Nights!


Are summer nights not magical? Ah. I love them so much. I’m not much of a night owl—okay, okay, I’m not even close to a night owl. Ask any member of my family, my eyes droop around 9PM and it's all downhill from there. Don’t judge me.

But summer nights.

Something different about those. Special. And, sure, we live in Florida where it really does feel like summer all year. But when the days are longer and the stars are out and you can hear the crickets and it's just sticky enough outside, then you have yourself a great summer night.

The world seems more expansive, somehow. Maybe God seems closer. To me, anyway. I just feel different on summer nights! All this to say, if you know me at all and have taken an even cursory glance at this blog—I feel all the different feelings in all the different seasons. God is a God of seasons! He made them all and even told us in Ecclesiastes 3:1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

So I revel in the summer nights! Just like I will revel in all the fall activities and smells and sounds when that season comes. I hope you will, too. Both the summer and the fall—they are equally important, equally full of feels.

I don’t know what season of life you are going through right now. Maybe it’s a spring season full of new hope and possibilities and growth everywhere. Maybe it is the other extreme of winter, seemingly full of barrenness. I can tell you without a single doubt that God is with you wherever you are, whatever season you may be in. He said so. “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.

To the end of the age.

In spring, in summer, in fall, in winter.

In all the in-betweens that seem to sneak in somehow.

And He’s here in all these magical summer nights. Breathe them in. Breathe Him in. I would say imagine Him out there with you, with the stars and the crickets, but it's really not imagination at all—it is faith. Faith that He is what He says He is. And He says He’s with you! Even now. Even tonight.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Happy June!


Happy June, people! Do you love summer like I love summer?
 
I keep a list of words in my phone that I look at or add to from time to time to remind me of summer. Words to invoke that feeling of happy happy joy joy that I get from summer. Here are some of them: fireworks, lemonade, salty water, sand, barefoot, laughter, beach umbrellas, shimmering ocean, sparklers, concerts. So many good things happen in summertime! I’m in for all of them.
 
Whatever your list is, be in for all of them. This is the one and only Summer 2017 that you will get. I know in advance I will have a great pull to stay on my couch and watch Netflix these next few weeks. (Netflix and I are BFF's, so no judgment here.) But I know if I do that, I will be watching other people experience all the fireworks, lemonade, salty water, sand, barefoot, laughter, beach umbrellas, shimmering ocean, sparklers, and concerts. I don’t want all those spectacular things to pass me by! I don’t want to look back at Summer ’17 and say, ‘hmmm. I don’t really remember much about it’. I know if I sink into couch and comfort-land that will happen.
 
I DO want to look back on Summer ’17 and have it come alive in my mind and hear it like a Bryan Adams song. “Oh, when I look back now, that summer seemed to last forever…and if I had the choice, yeah, I’d always wanna be there…those were the best days of my life”. So I’m gonna make my summer a melody. A melody of fireworks, lemonade, salty water…you get the idea.
 
May this be the best June of your life.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

He Gets The Job Done


I’m still thinking about confidence and it got me thinking back to the first Bible Verse I ever memorized—Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has a begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  

I remember hearing that and loving it. Loving the promise and possibility in it. I was a fairly new follower of Christ and I knew that I knew that I knew that He had begun this great work in me. This work of change and transformation and restoration. I could feel myself coming more alive. I never wanted that feeling to end.
 
So when I found this Verse, I thought “Yes! This is for me!”, and I clearly remember writing it out with a purple pen on yellow paper and sticking it on the front of my fridge. My kids were littles then, so I was in that kitchen often. I read that sentence over and over and over. It became a part of me.
 
And of course life happened and business barged in and my mind was preoccupied, and that “feeling” of being more and more alive sort of faded. But this Verse was in me by this point. The Word of God is living and active (see Hebrews 4:12), and it would rise up right inside of me and seem to whisper “remember….” I put that Verse on my fridge 20 years ago, and it still lives in my heart.
 
Can I encourage you to memorize Bible Verses? God is His Word, we are told in  John 1:1, and when you are thinking on His Word, the Bible, you are thinking about Him! And since it is living, and since it is active, it is actually doing something in you as you think about it. It’s a miracle.
 
The miracle, for me, from this single Verse was probably more extensive than I can put into words. But I know this happened: As I read those words over and over “being confident of this…”, I really did become confident. In Him. In His Work. In His faithfulness. And that confidence keeps growing. This Verse has really been a gift that has kept giving to me on my journey with the Lord.
 
Maybe that’s when God began to show me that though I can’t always be confident in myself, because I am a human and I make mistakes and as bad as I may not want to, I do still sin and fall, I can certainly be confident in Him. My confidence in Him is never misplaced because the One Who started the work is well able to finish it. The Artist Who began drawing this new life of mine certainly knows what colors to add when, what to highlight where, what to erase when I get my own pencil involved.
 
I challenge you to pick a Verse to memorize this week. If you aren’t reading your Bible right now and “picking a Verse” seems overwhelming in such a big Book, then I challenge you to start reading the Bible in the Book of John (last half of the Book, just check the table of contents) and as you read through it this week, this month, I bet a verse leaps off the page for you. That’s a good place to start cause it tells all about Jesus. Or, you can just take this verse I’ve written about today! 
 
Whatever you choose, I know God will make it alive in your heart!
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Two Sides of Confidence


Confidence seems to be a theme lately. In my own heart, in discussions I’m having, in things and people I’m reading about. Courage, too. How do you define courage? What about confidence? I wonder if I don’t get them mixed up sometimes! I view confidence as more of who I am—when I learn I am worthy because I belong to God, then I become confident. I see courage as more the “how” to walk out the “who”. If I live out my everyday destiny for God, leaning on Him daily for the smallest to the biggest things, then I’m living courageously, in my mind.
 
I love both words. I want to live both. I want to be a woman of confidence and I want to be a woman of courage. I know I need God for both.
 
Let's talk a bit about confidence.
 
The confidence I want comes from seeing myself through the eyes of God’s Word. Because that is true, that is possible. I really am what it says I am! It is not a burden to carry, it is more a destiny to live out.
 
In a merely earthly sense, confidence becomes a burden when it is all about “living up” to some image, or “proving” our worth, or sustaining some reputation. That all comes from self-effort. 
 
But real confidence, in my view, isn’t based on personal effort at all—it is based solely on faith. Faith that I am who God says I am. And then it transforms me, because I am no longer confident in me; rather, I am confident in God in me.
 
Let me tell you from personal experience, the difference in the two makes all the difference! Life becomes more beautiful and freeing when we realize it isn’t about us, but about Him. In our pursuit “Everyday Glow”, we aren’t endeavoring to shine our own light for ourselves, by ourselves, but we are shining God’s light in us. Bringing Matthew 5:14 to pass: “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”
 
It is a mind shift that goes from culture thinking to Kingdom thinking. Look at it like this:
 
You are beautiful. But you are not valuable because you are beautiful. You are valuable because you are God’s.
 
You are intelligent. But you are not valuable because you are intelligent. You are valuable because you are God’s.
 
You are sassy and witty and hilarious and the best storyteller and a fashion queen and a fabulous chef and a hands-on mommy and a thrilling wife and a straight A student…and on and on…and hooray for all those things! Celebrate these things! Cause God is gifting you with those things! But you are not valuable because of the gifts—you are valuable because of the Giver. You are valuable because you are God’s masterpiece. And it is because you are God’s masterpiece that you are beautiful and intelligent and sassy…..you see what I’m saying.
 
Cause the day may come when beauty fades and intelligence dims and sassiness has left the building. But you are still oh so valuable. Because being His never changes.
 
I hope you have a wonderfully confident day! Confident in knowing Whose you are! 
Love you all!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Our Favorite


Jason and I love to read books together. This started on our honeymoon. We drove to our destination and I read aloud the whole way. We got the biggest kick out of finding out the book we were reading was set in the same county we were staying—we had no idea! So a love affair of reading together was born. We’ve never stopped. And, yes, I know there are audiobooks now with better readers, more inflection, even accents. But there’s nothing like Jason and I hanging out and getting into a book together with our very own voices and stopping to discuss this character or that mystery. We always have a book going.
 
I wanted to share our favorite author with you today in case you are in need of a great book and haven’t heard of him. His name is Charles Martin and you need to exit this blog right now and buy every book he has ever written. There are no duds. He is amazing at capturing us. People. Our faith struggles, our human struggles, our defeats and our victories and our sorrows and our joys. You will laugh. You will cry. You will be addicted. You will say along with my husband, “Why can’t all authors write like this?”
 
So you are welcome.
 
As a side note to the author referral, please do what God has gifted you to do. Don’t be afraid of man, of rejection, of all the what if’s that come out of actually living out your dreams. There will probably be some rejection, unfortunately. There will be some down days where you doubt yourself. But there will also be people watching you live out God’s gifting whose breath is taken away. You will leave us inspired. You will leave us hopeful. In Charles martin’s case, there are two people in backyard loungers saying, with tears running down their faces, THIS IS SO GOOD. He’s living his gift, showing God’s goodness. I’m so glad he didn’t decide to be something else. Hey you—don’t decide to be something else. 

God has gifted you, too. I don’t know what it is, but He does, and He wants to tell you! And if you already know it, He wants to direct your steps to show you how you, too, can show His crazy good goodness by living out the beautiful gifts He’s given you in front of others.
 
I’m waiting. Leave me breathless.
 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thirsty


What are you thirsty for? Not in the physical sense, but in life. The actual definition is parched, feeling the need to drink something. Jesus, of course, knew that we would be thirsty in our souls for something beyond ourselves. That’s why He told the woman at the well: “Those who drink the water that I give will never be thirsty again” in John 4:14. Again, in John 7:37 He tells us, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me!” So what are you thirsty for? Parched for? Longing for?
 
I came across a Verse today that made me think of all this. Romans 2:29: “A person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.” God knows us well, doesn’t He? He knows that longing for praise from men instead of from Him leads to all sorts of missteps. Mistakes. Regrets. So He changes our hearts, if we let Him. To long for and thirst for Him and His acceptance rather than from people. People are fickle—we can like one day, dislike the next, approve one day, disapprove the next. Not God. He’s the same forever and ever and ever. And when you do drink of Him, come to Him for your needs and your approval and your acceptance, He will enthrall you! You’ll be full. Your heart will be full.
 
He has exactly what you are longing for, whether you know how to articulate it or not.
 
The woman at the well could have been any of us at one point or another, really. She was thirsting for things. Maybe love. Maybe acceptance. Maybe hope. Maybe stability. Read her story for yourself in John 4:4-32. It's awesome. Thing is—she didn’t know what she was thirsting for because she was trying to quench that thirst with things in this life. Jesus was the answer to her questions, the very thing she was seeking. He is the answer to ours as well. He says the same thing to you, you know. ANYONE can come to Him to drink Living Water.
 
Back to the Verse in Romans—when He does quench your thirst—when He gives you peace and joy and love and hope, you have a changed heart. And when you have a changed heart, you will seek praise from God and not from people. You won’t be running after people’s approval, you’ll be looking to God alone for His acceptance. 
 
Go to Him today. He’s got just what you need.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Feel Good Friday

I am hoping for an amazing weekend for you and for me and for our people. I hope for us that it is fun and zany and silly and light-hearted and not so heavy laden. I hope you live every moment and then you take a mental picture and save it away in your heart and mind to enjoy on the weekends that maybe aren’t so fun and zany.


If this definitely isn’t the weekend for you to do that, I hope you reach back into your mental picture files and pull up some memories of some ones that were. I’m forever grateful God allows us to store so many memories up there. Some I could do without, of course, but the vast majority are happy and hopeful and bring all kinds of pleasure. I love taking those good times back out for a spin on weekends where good times are in short supply.
 
Whichever kind of weekend you are experiencing, find some good things. Close your eyes to capture the image of your kids getting all kinds of muddy on one of the first weekends of summer. Close your eyes to capture the way you feel when your spouse says I love you. Close your eyes to capture the laughter that came out of you when your dog raced and raced and raced around the house for no reason whatsoever. Those are some of my good times, anyway. I believe you’ll find your own. 
 
Happy Weekend!