If God were in the locker room before the big game: Time for a pep talk!

You are beautiful. Life is good. You have a purpose beyond your circumstances. God’s love never leaves you, and He promises to never forsake you. You are filled with so much potential, and God desires for you to live your life filled with this knowledge, and to trust His outcomes. You are adored and treasured. God created you in the inner most parts, and He delights in you. What man intended for evil or wrong, God will redeem and show you another way.  He knows each hair on your head, and He accounts for every star in the sky. He is an intimate God who walks with you. This personal God, knows you by name, and He understands your wayward thinking, and provides reassurance that you are going to be okay.

When the worse day happens, He cries with you and wants you to see the circumstance in light of eternity, not the moment. He holds each moment in His hand, and He wants you to believe that the moment does not define you, but His work in you and those around you belong to Him.  God whispers over and over again, I’m here; I got this; Don’t worry.  God is unbelievably patient, and never grows tired of you. You don’t annoy Him, bother Him, or disgust Him.  He loves you so perfectly that, this side of heaven, you will never be able to grasp the depth of His love, but He spends a lifetime trying to convince you without hesitation.  God has no favorites.  He loves each of us the same. So when I’m struggling in sin and notice my saintly brother or sister, He begs us not to compare or feel less than.  He loves the broken, and delights in putting the pieces back together again with your help and purpose.  Jesus sits beside you in the board room, He guides the surgeon in the operating room, He cries with you at your daughter’s wedding, and He holds your grandchild with the same adoring eyes that are filled with so much love and joy.

God is not surprised by worldly events that devastate us or confuse.

He. Is. God.

He takes a broken world and orchestrates His plan. He is not afraid, regretful, or devoid of hope. God remains all that He has said that He is since the beginning of our time–the time Earth began–and before this time.  God is love. God is peace. God is compassionate and pursues His children with perfect love.  He forgives, restores, and redeems. Always. He never packs His bags and says, “I’m done with you.” He never sets you up to humiliate you and say “I told you so.”

He is a God who guides us through our consequences that occur from choices we regret.  He says that your past is past, and I am doing a new thing. He handles the shame and regret by providing love and peace not only from Him, but also through  friends and a new start. He helps you understand the view of an enemy, and shows you mercy. He begs you to remove judgment so you can live in freedom. Revenge is mine, says the Lord.  You can’t and shouldn’t try to be God.

God is in total, complete love with you. No man, woman, child, friend, pastor, boss, mentor, sibling, pet, idol can ever fulfill your desires like God can. He wants to be the first thing on your mind when you wake up, and the last thing you ponder in prayer when you fall asleep. He wants you to ask where did I put my keys, and He desires to handle every crisis in your day. He wants you to stop controlling people and circumstances and live! In no way does He desire for you to be miserable because of the behaviors of others. He understands the human nature of stress, but He says to you that my burden is light and my yoke is easy. Come to me and rest.

God is okay with you laughing, enjoying life, and taking naps. He is okay with you when you say, “I give up.” In fact, He says, I’ve been waiting for you to give up and trust me.  He wants your purpose to be filled with such purpose that a single second is a reflection of Him. A phone call, cleaning the house, driving to work, listening to an angry or hurt child, changing a diaper, getting a diagnoses, deciding on your vacation, doing that thing you said you wouldn’t do, singing, dancing, everything……He wants to be your Father–your Daddy with complete love and joy. My friend….

God loves you.

He always has, and He always will.

Take this love and soak it up. Splash it all around for the world to see, feel, and taste! Be kind and generous as He has been kind and generous to you.

Be kind.

Never forget for one moment that GOD LOVES YOU!

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You can always come home

Home.

the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

Your dwelling place is uniquely different. The decor, the smell, the pictures on the wall, as well as the food in your refrigerator all support your idea of a safe, happy haven. At the end of the day, you come home to let your guard down, throw on your pajamas, and recharge. The people who greet you may or may not be encouraging, but most of us would say that our family is our refuge. We acknowledge challenging times with those we love can make it hard to come home sometimes but in a lifetime of walking through the front door and settling in, we can agree home is where the heart is.

My father wrote me a letter recently. He felt led to encourage me to move forward. How can we move forward with confidence? So many quotes and scriptures could provide the stepping stones for us to embrace change, but the bedrock of embracing change is the constant–home.

I have this long rope in my home with duck tape covering one inch of the end of the rope.

When my vision is short or my circumstances are dictating my moods and actions, I’m reminded of my focus.

Home.

My eternal resting place becomes my reality and all the nonsense and struggle seems doable, a part of the journey versus a setback. When I look back through the years, my home has been a place of refuge, chaos, joy, confusion, peace, new beginnings, traditions, loss, celebration, and a constant…

My life may change but the constant is home–day in and day out– I can come home. One day we will have a perfect constant –heaven. Thank you, daddy, for creating a home on earth for me, and for pointing me to my Daddy and my eternal home.

My daddy’s letter:

Thinking about you this morning, and praying for you as well. I felt I should pause and write you some thoughts I have regarding your transition to your new job.

First of all, the sermon I heard yesterday by Gabriel Swaggert had some very inspiring points. He talked about the time Israel was suffering a famine because of their wicked ways, but he spoke of how God through Elisha said I am going to pour out a blessing on you. Gabriel also spoke of the time God’s people were facing the Red Sea, and the Egyptians were about to catch them. God said, “Move forward!”  They did and God opened up the Red Sea for them to cross to the other side.

This morning in Louise and my devotion time, the story was about God calling Abram to leave home, country, family and friends to go where He would lead them.

I know you are apprehensive about your change in jobs, but God is telling you to move forward and He will make the way for you. Moving forward you will be leaving a job of security, friends, and a place where you are comfortable. A new land of opportunity where you will be a blessing, and you will be bathed in prayer asking God to bless you as well.

You are loved by your Saviour, your husband, your children, your grandchild, and by your Mom and Dad. It will be a great experience because of God’s Spirit watching over you, and remember you can always come home!

I love you Anna, and I pray you will see God’s love in the morning because you have put your trust in Him. I pray that He will show you the way because you have lifted your soul to Him. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Love you, Anna,

Dad

Don’t Quit

In most areas of our lives we can decide to move on or quit. If a job, friendship, or hairstylist is not working out, you can look elsewhere without serious consequences. Marriage is different. We face so many challenges and unexpected seasons in which we live out our vows of “for better or for worse”.  When the worse happens we stick it out knowing on the other side we will see God’s glory, provision, and faithfulness.

Gary Thomas’ book Cherish calls our attention to the word cherish versus infatuation. Cherishing your spouse means that even when things get ugly, I’m not giving up on us.  Infatuation is the kind of love with conditions and expectations so high that you are living in a fantasy world. Cherish means that I truly believe that you are the only one who can walk this journey with me, and I will treat you as such.

It’s easy to quit on someone who is not living up to your expectations. The question becomes are your expectations realistic, and are you in constant pursuit to call out the negative in your spouse? Every day I could pick a fight with my imperfect mate. They are, after all, human–imperfect and sinful beings.

“Without struggle, marriage is like melodrama.  If God allowed infatuation to remain, how many of us would do the day-to-day work to achieve intimacy?” Gary Thomas

You’ve seen them. Newlyweds or dating couples. It’s only a matter of time when disappointment and possible contempt sets in and the work begins.  Just on the other side of infatuation is cherish, and so many couples are unwilling to climb the mountain and experience cherish. They quit. It’s hard work.  It’s sacrifice.  It’s a battlefield.

Your marriage legacy goes beyond the toothpaste cap or toilet seat. It’s your God story for a generation not yet born.  As Parish and I read the chapter “Don’t Quit”, we looked around our living room. Parish smiled and said, “Anna, look around this room.  Our legacy and memories are many…..” He began to talk about Patty our cactus, the family tree that Valentina and Grandma Louise drew, the rocking chair from my great-grandfather that he refinished for Victoria’s birth over 27 years ago, the coffee table that belonged to my grandmother, the lanterns we use on snowy nights as we walk and marvel, the cast iron dog I grew up with and sits on our hearth…

Of course these are just material examples of our love, but they are reminders to us of a love that God has been working on for years. His hand in our love story.

There is no other love story like yours. Your God, love story is a shining example to the world of mercy, cherish, and the power of sticking it out even when by all accounts you could have thrown in the towel.

I encourage you to stop and look around your home. If the objects in your home could talk, what memories would they share? I encourage you to be crazy hopeful (my friend’s expression) about your future, and to celebrate the good things in your spouse. I encourage you to purchase the book Cherish by Gary Thomas and read it together as a couple. Take your time with it.  Parish and I have been reading the book for two months, and we are on chapter 7.

If you feel like quitting, remember cherish and seek the help your marriage deserves.

I dedicate this post to my parents who will celebrate their 60th, diamond anniversary in August 2017. They are not quitters; they cherish.

My husband and I sang this song as a duet at weddings in the 80s. I hope you will listen to this song for the meaning and be spurred on in your love story. Try not to be critical of the 80’s music, but be motivated by the words. 🙂

Reboot Your Conversations

Celeste Headlee’s TED talk provides an excellent resource on how to engage in conversations in a world that is more polarized than ever. Everyone wants to be heard, and rarely is anyone listening. My mother shared with me in a conversation recently that everyone is a hero. Everyone in this world has a voice, a gift, a purpose, and all of us deserve to be treated like heroes. The famous are honored with awards and glory, but it’s in the day-to-day of ordinary people doing extraordinary things that we can choose to be amazed.

To love, cherish, honor, respect, care, give, provide, listen, smile…..

Our world and workplace need to pause and regroup.

Don’t multi-task:  Be present and in that moment. Don’t be half-in.  If you don’t want to have the conversation excuse yourself.

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Don’t pontificate: Setting aside of oneself and your personal opinion. Be willing to learn and assume YOU have something to learn. Everybody is an expert in something.

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Use open-ended questions (who, what, where, when, how): How did that feel? What was that like?

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Go with the flow: Thoughts will come into your mind, let them go. Don’t insert your thoughts into a conversation and disrupt the flow.

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If you don’t know, say that you don’t know: Folks will appreciate your confidence in stating your lack of knowledge.

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Don’t equate your experience with theirs: It’s never the same. It’s not about you. All experiences are individual.  Don’t take the time to talk about yourself. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity. Great video by Brene Brown:

Try not to repeat yourself

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Stay out of the weeds: They care about you and what you have in common. Years, dates, and details are not as important as connecting with you.

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LISTEN: When we talk, we feel in control. Let that control go and listen.

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Be brief

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Always be prepared to be amazed:  Everyone has some hidden amazing thing about them.  Go out and talk to people. Be prepared to be amazed!

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A moment can change us

The moment happened in a blink of an eye, but all events leading up to the moment were calculated by God himself. The God moments. You and I could argue that these moments frequent our day, but there is something about a moment in which you experience time standing still, and you step out of your surroundings.

The list was long and the time was short. Why is it that we save cleaning day for just before an event occurs in our home. Prepare, study, create, wipe down, pick it up, vacuum, and now it’s time to engage. It was a sweet group of girls who came to Bible study that night. Considering it was Superbowl Sunday, I knew attendance would be low. My soul was in a different place.  A good place.  A place of receiving and noticing. Flowers were fragrant and red, Valentine’s Day hearts were promises to be written and mailed to loved ones.  Sweet, young ladies gathered around the table as we wrote our Valentine’s day cards.  We were listening to Natalie Grant’s new album when “How Great Thou Art” came on. I asked if they knew this old hymn–they all are growing up with contemporary worship, which I love, too.  I started singing, and truly just felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Singing, giggling, talking about who to write our Valentine’s Day cards to, and eating yummy snacks. These young ladies are truly so special to me.

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I looked up while singing along with the song, and she caught my eye.

Like those romantic moments in movies or the time someone is overwhelmed in a crowd and all becomes silent and slow-motion, she looked at me with an expression I had never witnessed from her and time stood still. In a moment, her endearing, baby eyes seemed to say, “I’m so glad you are my grandmother.” It was as if she had finally realized just how blessed she was to know this love, and her smile turned up ever so slightly to confirm this realization. In a moment, we connected in such a way that showed living evidence of God’s eternal love and grace. God’s presence filled her and shined from her eyes and soul.

She loved me without knowing me. Pure love and acceptance.  I walked over to her and took her from her mother’s lap. She seemed to leap into my arms, and then the kiss. One, big, sloppy kiss on the cheek confirmed what she was trying to say.

What a post. If you’ve made it this far, I can only say, “You had to be there.” It’s as if my 51 years of life led to this moment. There will be more hugs and kisses, but the first realization of love between a grandchild and her grandmother will happen in a moment, and everything builds from that interaction.


When heaven opens up and rains down love through the life of a child, all the things that worry us and make us fret seem ridiculous and insane.

Thank you, Holy Spirit for preparing my heart and helping me to be mindful and aware of this shower of love.

Adelaide, Gigi loves you, too.

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Isn’t it so fitting that Jesus came to us as a baby? In the innocence of a baby, He looked into the eyes of humanity, and said, I love you with an everlasting love.

He knew you since the beginning of time, and He loves you perfectly.

I pray He will reveal His love to you in such a way that you draw near to Him. He has Holy “kisses” to share and delights in you.

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Friendship

Last night in Woman of Worth, we discussed friendship. As an activity, we made friendship soup!wowgamepicture

We discussed the importance of choosing friends wisely, forgiveness, and the number one friendship killer–gossip. Someone asked Jesus how many times do we forgive a friend?

Jesus says to him, “I say to you not up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven! Matthew 18:22

Meaning…..we know up front we will hurt others, and they will hurt us, so get your forgiveness game on. Recognizing that consistent, harmful relationships should end. We challenged ourselves to remember this guideline:

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The best way to handle conflict in a relationship is to go to the person and talk it out.  If you need guidance on the matter go to a trusted adult, not another friend and gossip about that person.

As we went through the lesson, we wrote characteristics and qualities of a good friend and made friendship soup:

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Our Ingredients:

  • Affectionate
    Able to be trusted
    Loving
    Love
    Trustworthy
    Good Listener
    Would never harm you
  • Has your back
  • Sense of humor
  • Cheerful
  • Encourages you
  • Caring
  • Influences you in the right way
  • Kind
  • Similar values and grow together
  • Sympathy
  • Not ashamed to be with you
  • Compassion
  • To be loyal, faithful
  • Selflessness
  • Happy
  • Common goals
  • Good listener; Someone who won’t judge
  • Take the time to help you
  • Forgiving
  • Keeps your secrets
  • Someone who thinks of others
  • Godly influence
  • Companionship
  • Attentiveness
  • Thoughtful
  • Someone who will hold you accountable to the Lord
  • Can act like “the bigger man”
  • Competitive to challenge me
  • Unstoppable
  • Consistent
  • Doesn’t gossip a lot
  • Comforter
  • Doesn’t tear you down
  • Not afraid to say it if they think you did something wrong
  • Helps in your time of despair; talks to you
  • undramatic: who brings happiness and no guilt

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

WOW!  What a great reminder of friendship.  We began and closed the lesson reminding each other that God is our first and perfect friend who can help us be a true friend to those He puts in our lives.

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Love is NOT all you need (Sorry Beatles)

Yesterday we talked about clinging to what is good.  This morning through a series of readings in my devotional time and a text from my oldest daughter to watch a video on Millenials, I’m bursting to share. I’ve been married for almost 28 years come this February 4. When we said our vows in our 20s, I really don’t think we had a clue how words like to cherish, to honor, in good times and bad, sickness and in health, and for better or for worse would play out in our years to come.  We were in love, and “love is all you need”, according to The Beatles.

I was reminded of how habits form when my husband and I tackled taking down the Christmas tree and decorations for the season.  After almost 27 years, you would think we would be more considerate. It’s not a knock-down drag out fight, but we have our ways– a comment here, a jab there, selective hearing, and eye rolling commences.  It’s so ridiculous, and we end up laughing at each other and promise that in the years to come we will be different.

Our brains are wired for habit forming.  Most habits are good. If you desire to become an accomplished pianist, the daily habit of practicing creates an expert. A growth mindset has become the new area of focus in education and psychology. We have put into words what we know through experience–old habits die hard, and new habits take concentrated practice. Patience.

Patience.

Most of us want what Gary Thomas calls a “watch marriage”. I want to put you on my arm as needed, and when I look at you on my wrist, I want you to fulfill the purpose or role. If you don’t, I’m frustrated or angry. I can quickly put you on the nightstand and walk away. Too harsh? Maybe.  There is some validity to the metaphor.  Love is great, but do we truly cherish our spouse?

Husbands and wives often treat each other according to whatever roles they expect from each other. “Just do what you’re supposed to do and try to look reasonably attractive while you’re doing it, and everything will be fine.” Gary Thomas

Cherish means to hold something dear and to delight in them. We can love out of obligation and duty, but do you cherish each other? If you are single, think of these words. Our culture supports the practice of going to school, finding a career, dating, getting married, having children, and buying the house.  You can be so tied up in the practice you are blindsided by the commitment you are truly making to the person standing next to you speaking vows.  To cherish someone and to build a meaningful marriage takes time, sacrifice, and something deeper than the giddy feeling when you hold hands.

My oldest daughter sent me this video talk on Millenials. I believe it’s spot on, but even at 50 something, because I use technology at a high level, I’m guilty. You must watch this–

God knew we would be a people of instant gratification. Jesus told us that if you want growth or fruit you must

hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. — Luke 8:15 NRSV

There is that word again with another word added to it…..

patient endurance…..

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Maybe it would help if you understood that God delights in you–He cherishes you.  We all know God has to love us even when we mess up, but have you ever pictured God cherishing you? He has your picture on his refrigerator and calls you up just to say, “Hey– I miss you.  Let’s do lunch.”  He wants to spend time with you no matter how good you’ve played out your role that day. He adores you.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Talk about patient endurance. Thank you, Jesus.

Here is a love dare for you.

  • Examine your responses and actions to your spouse and ask if you cherish them.  If you are single, ask the same question about those who are closest to you in your life right now. How do you express this commitment to cherish?
  • What is one action you can take to change an old habit? Your brain can change, but it takes patient endurance.
  • Spend time with the One who perfectly cherishes you.
  • Take a hiatus from technology, and dare yourself to delete some social apps.

For the creative spirit:

  • Download the app Flipagram. Create a video with pictures of you, your spouse, and some of the blessings from your marriage. Choose a song that represents your love for the background music.  You will have to download the song to your music library and select the song once you are done with uploading pictures. If you do this, CONSIDER SHARING WITH ME!  I’D LOVE TO CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE WITH YOU!

Here is my Flipagram of Parish and me–ENJOY! Each picture has a special memory that we cherish…..

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  • Write a poem, letter, or create a picture collage.
  • Understand Growth Mindset by reading this fabulous article that also gives you a fun challenge. (click on the words “this fabulous article”)
  • Read this post together and talk it out.
  • Buy Gary Thomas’ book and be committed to doing the Bible study together as a couple:

The Art of Cherishing Your Spouse (GREAT video in this article about the book Cherish, by Gary Thomas)

http://www.faithgateway.com/art-cherishing-spouse/?utm_source=devosdaily&utm_campaign=devosdaily20170109&utm_medium=email#.WHOdEvkrLIU

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Gary Thomas