Friday, December 1, 2017

Happy December!

So do you have your happy happy Christmas pants on or what?! 'TIS THE SEASON Y'ALL. So exciting!!! My challenge to myself, and to you now, is...'tis the season for what exactly? 'Cause we have a choice. 

'Tis the season for...rushing and stressing and worrying and comparing and spending and going you know what crazy. OR 'tis the season for...peace and hope and love and generosity and good news to all mankind. 

I mean, obviously, we all say we want the second version of that scenario. But then we go and live out the first. I do, at least. I'm not very smart like that sometimes. 

So to help my own self I am writing these words at the top of my planner page every day of December: 'Tis the season. Just a reminder. I find the simplest things help me the most. It will only take me a few minutes to do it and then every day as I turn the page to fresh new day God has made, I will be reminded that I get to choose the kind of season I will have. 

God always gives us a choice. Life or death. Blessings or curses. You choose, He says. 

I'm gonna choose life as much as I can. I'm gonna choose blessing as much as I can. I know things can get sideways this time of year and it's easy to get off track from this kind of thinking, but I will have a brand new reminder each and every day. 

A brand new day to choose. 

'Tis the season for Good News. It'd be a shame to miss that. So maybe you will join me? With a written reminder or a sticky note or a phone alarm, whatever may work for you. You know you! 

Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dream Thief: Comparison

I love love love Pinterest. I love to look at Thanksgiving tables and Thanksgiving dishes and Thanksgiving decor and Thanksgiving everything. It's fabulous. As long as I keep it in context, it's a lot of fun and gives me gobs of inspiration. Where things get off track is when I begin to sigh to myself and say oh, I wish I had that. And that! And that! Can you say overwhelm?! 

Maybe you have a dream for a truly peaceful and wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you do. Don't let anything steal that dream from you. Be aware of the dream thieves and give them no entrance. No matter how little they may be. The Bible tells us, after all, that it's the little foxes that spoil the vine. 

I take what I can from the inspiration--I love the look of 97 candles on the table, but I have 4 and they will do beautifully. I love the idea of making 42 dishes for the big day, but in reality, my family will only eat the same few things I make every year. It's fun to add in one or two new things, but overwhelm happens when I compare it to the 42 previously mentioned. 

Comparison thinking is such a little dream snatcher. Let's not let that kind of thinking steal this joyful day from us. 

Proverbs 17:1 "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife."

I hope there's so so little strife and so so much peace for you this Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!! Is it just me or is it crazy town that we are a week out from Thanksgiving! I am very excited! Family and food and fun and lots of gratefulness. I wanted to tell you a little thing I've been doing to prepare my heart a bit. Since I have been seeing Christmas decorations at the mall and Christmas commercials on the tv since BEFORE HALLOWEEN (sorry I had to scream that at you, but it is very emotional), I wanted to do something that would help me keep my mind and heart focused on actually giving thanks so that I won't miss the beautiful Thanksgiving season in the mad rush to Christmas joy. 

I simply bought a small box of thank you cards that are blank inside and began jotting down a note of thanks to my husband each day. Heartfelt and deep things like, "Thank you for listening to me..." to silly and fun things like, "Thanks for being so sexy!" It has been the biggest blessing to ME! But, bonus, he has been blessed by it, too. 

I cleaned the counter off yesterday morning and found his cards stacked by the coffee pot. I put them away, but when he came home he immediately asked where they were! Why in the world?! This was his answer: "I've been re-reading them every morning." Swoon. 

What a simple thing that has brought such great joy. Small investment, huge reward. 

Hey--you still have a week! Maybe you could do this for your husband, your kids, random people. Love on them while remembering to give thanks. Maybe you'll start a gratitude journal to God! But thank you cards work too!! 

Maybe you'll do it every day or maybe you'll write a longer one to hand on actual Thanksgiving day. There are no rules! Just an idea to bring some thankfulness into your days. 

Love you all!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Glow Starts Tuesday, September 19!

Hey ladies!! The band is getting back together! Glow starts Tuesday! Woo hoo! All the exclamation points!!!! If you are a regular, welcome back! If you haven’t been yet, come on and give us a shot! You belong!

Let me give some information based on the questions I get asked most:

*We are ladies of all ages in all different stages of life getting together to learn how to live as children of God. If you are a woman, Glow is for you!

*You don’t need to bring anything but yourself! No need for workbooks or books. Of course your Bible and maybe a pen and paper would be handy, but we have those at church if you forget.

*You won’t be called on to answer questions, to get in a group, to come up front, or to pray out loud. It is very much like a church service, just for us girls.

*I teach from the Bible, not from a printed study or book. Bible studies are GREAT! I use them myself sometimes in my personal quiet time. I know many of you use them in your home groups! Awesome! Glow, however, is a bit different in that though I may have a “series” sometimes, each week is stand alone. If you can only come once, come on! If you can come bi-weekly, bring it on. I know many of you have odd work schedules, have littles that get sick and cranky, and a myriad of reasons you have to miss sometimes. Every week is a complete lesson for this reason. You won’t feel behind if you pop in three weeks from now!

*We have childcare for ages 5 and under. Bring your little people with you—they will have a blast!

*We start at 10:30 in the main sanctuary at Coastline.

I love Glow with all my heart and have been praying for you and this semester since we broke for the summer. I can’t wait to dig into God’s Word with you and let it transform us more and more into the image of our Savior and Lord Jesus.

Love you all!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Creator of New Things.

Jason and I are on our Sabbatical right now, resting and praying and just being. Sabbatical comes from the word Sabbath—so if it is a confusing term, it simply means taking an extended Sabbath to refresh ourselves in the Lord. I am loving every minute of it!

One of the things I am doing personally is starting the Bible in the starting place. Genesis 1. I love to read books of the Bible, and I love to jump around to what I’m “feeling” on any certain day, and I will tell you there is no wrong way to read the Bible! It has just been a little bit since I started in Genesis and read it through. I’ve put no time frame on it, I have no “plan” to finish it by any certain time. What sparked this was a longing to rediscover Who God really is. Like really.

You can be told a lot about a person and it may or may not be true. It may be filtered through the teller’s one time experience or maybe they heard it from someone who heard it from someone—so many chances for misinterpretation. But if you go straight to the source and hang around for a while, you’ll get the real info. You’ll see who they are, what they are about, where they’re coming from. You’ll get an understanding of their motives behind their actions, their thoughts, their drives.

It's not different with Abba. If we want to know our God, we have to see what He said about His own Self, not blindly trust others’ opinions, no matter how great they may be. So I decided to go on a refresher course—an overview to remind me why God made me and you and this world and what is His plan anyway and Who is He really, really?

And maybe I will share some thoughts along the way! Although, you should go on your own journey. Your own refresher course, perhaps? And it doesn’t have to look anything like mine! Maybe you read a particular Book or study a particular word. So many ways to know Him!

As a mind blowing thought of how insanely great God is, I didn’t get past the first couple of verses in the Book before writing down something awesome in my handy little “God is…” notebook. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”

God sees past the darkness. God sees past the emptiness. He sees something where there is nothing.

I’m sitting here looking out a window onto a beautiful lake with trees and flowers and there are squirrels and geese and there is light. That used to be nothing. Nothing at all. Sheer darkness and emptiness. I see with my own eyeballs what God created out of that void.

If you are feeling empty and darkness has overtaken your life today, would you go to your window, too? Maybe you see a kid riding their bike to school, or a big palm tree, or a bird flying by, or a cloud shaped a funny way, or a rainbow. Whatever your view is, it used to be nothing. And then God made something. Right at the beginning of the Story, He shows us what He can do.

He showed Abraham, too. A lot of great things happened in Abraham’s life. The greatest, in my opinion, is that he was God’s friend (James 2:23). In Romans 4:17 we are told it was because “…Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.”

So who is God? He is certainly the Creator of new things. I’m asking Him to create new things in me today. Things I can’t even see—all I see is the emptiness and formlessness and darkness in some areas. But He can see the shape. He can bring the light. He can fill it with something good. He’s already proven He can do it. Let’s believe Him to do it for us.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Good From Bad.

How has your summer been? Full of so many summery things that you wish it could last forever? Full of so many summery things that you have actually had your fill and are ready for fall? Too short? Too long? Not what you expected? Mine falls in that last category.

I had a certain type of summer planned out in my mind back at the end of May. Then…I’m sure you know what happened next…life happened. Family things came up, ministry things came up, all sorts of things came up! Some good, some not so good, and all unexpected. The hardest thing was definitely my husband breaking his ribs in late June. Boooo. And hissssss. And booooo again. Obviously the boos and hisses are for all the pain he has been in, but also for all the plans that had to be put on hold. But you know, that is only part of the story.

The other part is that I had my husband home alone for a couple of weeks with—wait for it!—nothing to do. Nothing. To. Do. This is unheard of! And it was doctor’s orders, which of course makes it official! And it was something unexpectedly bad that was turned to an unexpected good. I love when that happens. You start to be so mad at a circumstance or situation, so angry that it happened to you, then God starts to show you the good that He can bring from it. He is so great like that. He can turn things around.

Romans 8:28 tells us God does that exact thing. I realize this sounds like a pat answer to many people. “Going through a hard time? Hey, its okay! God will just turn that sucker around for good!” Of course we don’t want someone to gloss over our hard times, toss out a Bible verse to us, and move on thinking it will fix all our ills. Or to imply that our hard times aren’t that hard because one day it will be better. Of course not. We are called to love. Love is action. Love is getting off our high horse and getting into the ditch with people. But I really do want to be loved with God’s Word. I really do want you to bring His Word in the ditch with when you come for me.

In case you don’t know the verse, it says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” And it is absolutely true. And I absolutely need to be reminded of it over and over and over. He does this, this bringing good from bad, for me because He loves me. And I need to be reminded of that.

Certainly my husband’s broken ribs are not as heartbreaking and life-draining and breath-stealing as what many of you are going through. I, however, have walked through other kinds of hell these past couple of years. Dark times. Hard times. Feeling like my nose is just barely above the water while the rest of me is sinking times. And that verse? It gave me hope. Reason to breathe. What a reminder that HE IS HERE. He is real. He sees the horrible times, the somewhat horrible times, the laughably horrible times, and the good times as well, and holds all of them in His hands. I need to remember during all of these times that He’s watching. He’s gonna love me through it. He knows.

A few chapters later in Romans we get these words in verse 9:Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” And then verse 15 tells us, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” We’re called to act like God, so I have to believe this is how God is to His children. He is happy with us in the good times. He weeps with us in the bad. And, yes, He works all of the times out for our good in the end. That doesn’t mean it will all tie up with a bow and a happy ending. It doesn’t mean every event will be explained to us. But it does mean that, as the Message Bible puts it, “…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” He can work unimaginable pain into peace. He can heal emotional wounds. Scars that no one else can see can be soothed. It's possible, but only with God.

I understand that people want others to keep cliché sayings to themselves. Sometimes we just can’t help it in hard times. We want to say something, but don’t know what to say. Our motives may not be bad, but our words can be questionable. Not so with the Word of God. The motive is always His love for us. He only thinks good thoughts toward us, never evil ones. He sees us through the eyes of His Beloved Son Jesus if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. If you haven’t, you can ask Jesus into your heart right now—give your heart to Him and ask Him to forgive you for the ways you’ve lived your life wrong, ask Him to lead you from now on. It's not complicated, it's not a religious thing. It's entering into the relationship you’ve been waiting your whole life for. (And if you want a little direction for what’s next, click here.)

So the motive. It's always good. And God’s Word? It can never be reduced to a cliché. It is living and active. It is for our good.

The summer was different than I thought. At first glance, not good different. But it sure turned out to be pretty amazing. Good from bad. I’m thankful for the reminder.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Through A Child’s Eyes

Jason and I had a wonderful few days with our grandson this week. So fun to see the world through a child’s eyes! Things that are a part of my everyday look different when I see them through an 18 month old’s eyes. The big yard. The extra large dog that must look like a horsey to him. The wide open beach. The vast ocean that seems to have no end. So much to explore and see and touch and, for him at least, to taste! It was an absolute delight to see things anew, with a spirit of adventure and curiosity.

It made me think how God made this whole big world for us to explore and enjoy alongside Him. He must delight in us as we have new experiences He created for us. He must be thrilled as we curiously journey through this life He has given us, led by the Holy Spirit. The wonderful outer world of yards and horseys and beaches and oceans, of course! But also the inner world of living by faith and walking in love and joy and peace and looking to His Word for life.

You know what else? Jack never wanted to explore apart from us. He always wanted to hold onto our hands or our pants leg. If he ran ahead, he would look back, just to make sure we were still with him. So precious. I want to be that way with God. What good would it all be if He weren’t with me? I want to hold onto His hands, keep close to Him so I know He’s there on this giant adventure with me.

Jack doesn’t know this yet, but we would never, ever leave him! Our eyes are glued to that little sucker!! He just needs to reassure himself sometimes. You may not know yet, but I assure you that God will never leave you. Hebrews 13:5, “I will never abandon you.” So when I reach for His hand or turn my eyes up to make sure He’s there, it is not Him I am doubting. I am well aware of my wanderings and how easily I can forget about Him. And I don’t want to forget about Him. I want Him to be involved in every single part of my life. He wants that, too. I want to immediately look to Him—“Hey God, did you see that?”, “Wasn’t that so cool, God?”, “Whoa! That was amazing, God!”

I want to follow the Leader right into that abundant life He has promised me. I hope you follow Him, too, this week and that you have a fun, adventurous week!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday Shenanigans

We are empty nesters. Still getting used to that, though it’s been a while now. It’s hard to put on the brakes after you spend your whole adult life doing a particular thing, hard to shift to a new season. But—spoiler!—its also FUN. So much fun. Jason and I had our daughter before we were married and our whole married life was raising children until recently. We’ve never lived alone, just the two of us. It has been an adventure of the best kind to learn what that’s like. It has led to many shenanigans! We are trying new things, learning, growing into this new season. Seeing what sticks, what we like as a couple without kids in the house to fill our time. Again, so much fun.

Jason surprised me this spring with paddleboards! We’ve talked about this forever and tried it out once in the Keys. When you live surrounded by water, it seems a shame to not take advantage of it, and paddleboarding is just one way we can.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because life with Jesus is meant to be full. Meant to be abundant. Meant to be full of possibility and hope. I never thought I would love to paddleboard, never been one for sporty kind of adventure. But Jesus knows me better than I know myself! He made me, can see around corners of the future that I can’t, and knows what will put the abundant in my life. My part is to let Him.

How many times do we tell ourselves and others, “No—I couldn’t possibly do that. I’ve never been that kind of person.” From traveling to trying new foods to sharing how we fell in love with Jesus to speaking to a group of women to writing to leading a Bible story to paddleboarding! So many times we shut off avenues that God has specifically put on our path because we just won’t open our mind to new possibilities. And we figure it's probably not God anyway, so what’s the big deal?

It can be a very big deal. It can be an avenue of rest and renewal and revitalization and revival. Think about a long road trip. You’re headed from one part of the country to the other—coast-to-coast. You know you’ll only do this once so you want to make it count. You don’t barrel through, nose to the grindstone, just getting it done. You want to see things, you want to rest overnight, you want to take a few back roads that you’ll never have the chance to see again. You want to have stories to tell! Souvenirs to show!

God didn’t put you on this earth to barrel through with your nose to the grindstone, just getting it done. He put you here to know Him, He gave you life—and then the life of His Son Jesus—so you could have abundant life. John 10:10: “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”

Hey friend, He knows when you need rest and renewal and revitalization and revival. Maybe it’s in your mind or your spirit or your body or your marriage. So He puts a little off-ramp for you to follow. It’s not taking you off your purpose. It’s adding to your purpose. You’re picking up little things that will enhance your trip. You’re appreciating your Creator more as you realize just how well He knows you. You’re going to be able to share this part of your adventure with others—how you didn’t even realize you needed this avenue, but it appeared, and you followed God right onto it, and amazing things have happened because of it. “See this souvenir of joy? I got that on this particular side road! Hey—look at this peace I found on this dusty new road!”

I have no idea what this looks like for you. Maybe a certain avenue will lead to new friends, new opportunities, new knowledge. But you have to be willing! Don’t be afraid of new. And don’t dismiss “non-spiritual” things as having no spiritual value. God is an all-encompassing God. He so wants to give you what you need, even if you don’t know you need it.

I could’ve said, “Nah. I’m not a paddleboarding type of girl. Watching someone paddleboard in a Netflix show is more my speed.” And really, I’ve said similar things to a myriad of offroads. But I didn’t this time. And because I said, I’ll try it!, I’ve picked up some pretty cool souvenirs for my life and my marriage. I highly recommend it.