Processing and Praising Jesus

I am a slow processor. Sometimes I overthink things, sometimes I avoid thinking on all the things, sometimes I’m just procrastinating. But one can only procrastinate for so long before the words just need to come out.

I’ve been reminded time and time again this week (and last week) that my God is a personal God, a personable God, and a Sovereign God. Salvation does not lead us to need to do more, but it is an opportunity for God to shower us with even more gifts. My relationship with God is not based on anything I do right, or wrong. It is based on His faithfulness, His righteousness, His goodness and mercy.

And while my life sure has not been perfect this week (hello, parenting teenagers… hello, selfishness… hello, over-scheduling… hello, anxiety), time and time again, Jesus shows up and shows off. It started with these random flowers in the middle of a pile of dead weeds in my yard, blooming way in advance of any of my purposefully planted daffodils, and completely different. Showing off in their tiny size and stunning, two-color display, just smiling at me. I don’t know where they came from, but they sure put a smile on my face and reminded me of my Creator, who loves me and gives me good gifts—He created all things and holds them together, even in a seemingly random way in my backyard.

When I look back on my week, I see the gifts in abundance and I am reminded of the importance of remembering and giving thanks. I’m thankful for a walk with a friend, for a view of the city, for trees in bloom in the valley, for a perfectly timed sunset, wild turkeys up close and personal, for homemade iced coffee drinks, for endless supply of books (libraries are a wonderful thing), for hugs from my kids, good conversations, hard conversations, loving correction from my other half, homemade pizza, fellowship with the body of Christ, the opportunity to pray on behalf of others’ needs, Jesus—always Jesus.

My friend encouraged me to “Stop and smell the flowers,” so I picked up a $4 bouquet at the grocery store. One of the great podcasts (#HumanHope with @loswhit) I listen to reminded me to “Lower the volume of life,” so I’ve chosen silence while driving more often these last few days.

And when I make space, and read God’s Word, and pay attention to the gifts around me, I give thanks. I give thanks for the the way God is gracious. And faithful. And holy. And just. And full of loving kindness. He gives His children many good things, we just need to keep our eyes open to see them.

So when I’m overwhelmed by my sin and by the sin of the world around me, I run to Jesus and I rest in His forgiveness. I look for the ways He shows up. I count my blessings. I repent. I accept His grace. And I shout His praises to those around me.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.

Psalm 119:132

#HopeWriterLife #SoulStruggle #amwriting #writeyourheartout #justwrite #JesusOnlyJesus #1000gifts #ChasingOutTheDark #TheMinistryofPayingAttention

Write my way to Truth

When I write, I am a better me.  When I write, I take the time to process the hard stuff, to acknowledge what’s right and wrong, to remind myself of truth, and to pay attention to the good God gives. When I stop to write,  my mind does what David’s did when he talked himself out of the stinkin’ thinkin’ and talked to God in prayer.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted in me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him”. ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭42:5‬

The weather has me down in the dumps today… it’s a lovely, dreary, gray March day. Tomorrow’s forecast doesn’t look much better. And it’s easy for my mind to focus on the negative, and when I keep it mental that is exactly what happens.

However, when I take the time to write down and name the negative stuff, I naturally shift toward taking the time to combat the negative with truth. I can’t explain it, it just happens.

So I remember that my soul is cast down, but it doesn’t need to stay there. I can hope in God. I continually use foggy days to remind myself that God came down. He came to earth to walk among us, to show us The Way, to pay the atonement for our sins. I can find the pictures on my phone of last week’s sunrise and remind myself that the sun rises every morning and God created all the seasons for our enjoyment.

I can remind myself and you that Jesus laid down His life for my sins and I don’t have to live in defeat because we already have the victory.

Sunday’s coming!

#HopeWriterLife #HolyWeek #Godwithus #HeavenComeDown #ChasingOutTheDark #writeyourheartout

The Weight & Wait of Holy Week

I’m having a hard time stringing words together these days. I’ve seen some beautiful sunrises. Winds and rains have blown through and knocked down some very dead trees (there’s a lesson in that). The birds are singing, and in the valley I’ve spotted the spring flowers blooming. But my heart is still stuck in winter, my soul is stuck in short dark days. 

I’m overwhelmed with the dailyness of life.  Parenting teenagers has me questioning all my life choices. I don’t know how to re-enter life, church, family, friendships, etc. I don’t want to write, but I’m sad when I have not written.

I say I don’t have time to write, but it’s also that I’m not making the time. I look for inspiration and I come up wanting. I’ve forgotten how to look for beauty, to pay attention to ordinary things, to find hope and joy in the blessings I am taking for granted.

I think of the weight and the wait of Holy Week, of all of lent. And I am always reminded of Hope. Hope in tiny, little flowers. Spring will come again. Friendships will evolve, change, grow. Children will make me laugh …and cry, and grow. Jesus rose from the dead. God and the truth of His Word changes lives. God is faithful, even when I am not. The sun shines. Some day I will hug my friends and family again. When I don’t understand, I just need to remember God is in control. God is directing my steps and the steps of those I love.

Sunday’s coming.

#HopeWriterLife #SoulStruggle #amwriting #writeyourheartout #justwrite #ministryofpayingattention #itssimplytuesday #TuesdayYouAintCute

Jesus Makes All Things Possible

Do you know what is possible with God? Stubborn people can be saved. Relationships can be restored. Healings happen. Blessings come in abundance. All things.

Psalm 103 reminds us that Jesus forgives my sins, heals my diseases, redeems my life from destruction, crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercies, satisfies my mouth with good things, renews my strength, executes righteousness and judgment for the oppressed.

Sometimes I just need to write that list out and personalize it for myself. Perhaps you need the reminder, too. Writing it with actual pen and paper settles it into our hearts and minds in real way. Writing out Scripture, writing out prayers is something that I’ve gotten away from in the busyness of this season. But I’ve been reminded.

Because that’s what God does. He lovingly, tenderly shelters us as a mother. He teaches us the same lesson over and over (Hello, Israelites and disciples). He shows up and shows off and shows me that He loves me personally. He created me intentionally. And He has a plan for my life (and it’s better than my plan).

This weekend was full of a variety of situations that didn’t fall under “my plan.” I didn’t respond well in most of those. I may have had a minor breakdown. If I’m being honest the whole past year has been quite the drift from my plan. But God is not surprised. And He uses all these things for His glory and for the good of those who love Him.

So as I look at this photo I snapped Sunday morning, with the intention of writing that day, I’m reminded that God brings beauty in the starkness of winter. The sun still shines. The sky is brilliant blue. The shadows and highlights display His creativity. That tall pine tree stands tall and firm. Even dead trees have an odd stark beauty about them.

I’m reminded that He gives me words when I take the time to sit still and listen and write. He gives me sunrises and sunsets. He gives me laughter with my kids and the hard conversations. He forgives my impatience and helps me seek forgiveness of others. He gave me a place of employment that talked me through my oven connections (I think I even learned something about flare union adapters and NPT threads). He gives me delicious take-out options on the days I live in my car. He provides neighbors willing to help and give me tea. Phone calls with friends, dark chocolate, coffee. Good books to read. Hot showers. Chiropractic care. Rest. And all of this is over and above the gift that is all I need.

Jesus. He makes all things possible. What do you need to ask God to show you today? What has God done for you that you need to acknowledge and give thanks for?

#HopeWriterLife #FiveMinuteFriday (on Tuesday) #fmfparty #writingprompt #writingcommunity #possible #JesusOnlyJesus #juliesmonthlyspot #onceamonthspot #frontdoorview

We were Not Made to Hibernate

Multiple times over that last few months I have told friends that I would like to hibernate until May. January and February were kinda hard. The never ending snow caused me much anxiety, because even though I grew up in Buffalo, driving in snow is never something I look forward to. I felt cooped up and claustrophobic, even though home is where I most wanted to be. I dreaded everything but work (it’s nice to have a job you enjoy).

Because my hand is still tender from the break I gave it in the fall, there was no interest in walking outside, getting in my once-a-year-sledding, or even helping with the shoveling. Even if I could have met a friend for coffee, I couldn’t motivate myself to leave the house once I was home from work. I dreaded phone calls and zoom meetings more than usual. Even if I had wanted to bake sugary treats and comfort foods, my broken oven prevented that joy. I was basically going through the motions, picking up my feet for just the next step.

But guess what? The sun still shines, the snow has begun to melt. I wrote EVERY SINGLE DAY in February. There is already hope of spring. And God didn’t make us to hibernate. This year with the pandemic has been hard, because we are meant to live in community, to be active, to be outside in creation, to hug people, to share smiles and have conversation. Hibernation is not what we were created for.

It’s something I have to tell myself every single day. I was made for relationship. It’s not always easy. It takes effort. It takes sacrifice. It takes dying to self, because self would be fine to hibernate. It takes trusting Jesus and listening to his prompting. It takes looking for opportunity to connect with others.

Introvert or Extrovert? Do you love winter or hate it? Prefer crowds or one-on-one? Indoors or Outdoors? We are all different, but we need each other. So hibernate for a day if you need to, but then reach out and connect with someone. You were made for community.

#Write28Days #Hibernate #amwriting #writeitgirl #seasonalaffectdisorder #community

Patience — Waiting without whining

Sometimes I have a hard time waiting on God. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I need the reminder that God works outside of time. He is never late. When I look at life situations that don’t look like I think they should, or when I am asking God for answers or change or rescue or victory, I am always in a rush. I want to see progress, results, clear direction.

I keep wondering if there is something more I should be doing, something different. I struggle between the line of “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” How can it be both/and?

I struggle between the line of “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” How can it be both/and? (#patience)

I have seen him be faithful. I have seen the benefit of His timing. I know that He has not forgotten me (or my friends and family) and the struggles we face. I just have a hard time waiting… patiently, without anxiety.

God doesn’t want me and you to be lazy. He’s not asking me to do nothing. But He does ask us to trust Him. Patience doesn’t mean doing nothing. It is facing the wait without complaint, being steadfast despite adversity. It is trusting His guidance as to when to move forward and when to stand still. It is praying and seeking counsel on how to support others without enabling sin. It is being content where I am but also looking for future opportunities God has prepared for me. It is waiting in faith for God’s miracle in the lives of those I cannot change. How can I remain strong when it feels like things are crumbling around me?

In the New Testament, patience is often listed or linked closely with hope and love. Living out an example of patience means holding on to hope, walking in love, trusting Jesus. And the only way I know how to do that is to return to the truths of His word whenever I am tempted to think that we’ve reached the end of the line and there is no hope.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭27:14‬‬‬

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:”‭‭ Psalm 37:7‬‬‬

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬‬‬

“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:25‬‬‬

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”‭‭ Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23, 25‬ ‬‬

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬‬‬ (#patience #write28days)

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #Scripture #Hope #Patience #writeyourheartout #soulstruggle

Changing Perception with Gratitude

Perception: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. Use your senses to be aware of your surroundings, your feelings, your community. God gave us senses to help us live this life to the fullest. They help us prepare for our next right thing. They remind us of moments, days, experiences.

When we take time to use our senses, it gives perspective to the situation around us. It gives us insight and understanding as we process where we are coming from and where we want to go. As we pay attention to our life, to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, our perception is what directs our next steps.

If I perceive I am not good enough to be a published author, I may be unwilling to put in the work to write daily and clarify my voice. However, if I hear to the words of encouragement from others, if I view comments and messages from readers, if I pay attention to the feelings I experience when I’ve completed my writing for the night, when I taste the satisfaction of a well-crafted sentence, this motivates me to keep going, to pick up the pen and work through another essay.

What is your perception of the life God has given you? Do you find joy and contentment in your job, your family, your church community? Do you perceive struggles as punishment or a gift from God to refine you to be more like Him? Gratitude fuels joy and contentment.

There are days that I feel very unthankful, my perception of the world around me is self-focused and negative. I’m running and rushing, and irritated when there is a wrinkle in MY plan. But when I take a deep breath and look up and out, then my perception of my circumstances change. In the chaos of Tuesdays when I run from work to dance and home and to dance again, and I eat dinner in the car (not every Tuesday… sometimes #myhusbandrocks and he does a taxi-run), I pause and see the gifts around me.

The magic of being a mom and finding missing items in random places. The beauty of street lights, deer in snow covered fields, drive thru pick up of prescriptions, the taste of soup for dinner in a travel mug, good conversations with the teenagers, the smell of fresh coffee (in yet another travel mug), a few minutes to type out some words, and to read a chapter of a book, the gift of groceries.

And always I return to the glory of giving thanks in all things. Changing my focus and perception of this gift of life I have been given and remembering that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

#Write28Days #1000gifts #gratitude #HopeWriterLife #writeyourheartout #amwriting #writingchallenge

Be Observant of your Life

We observe holidays and celebrations. We observe our emotions and warning signs. We observe sporting events and concerts. We observe nature. We observe lent.

But how observant are we? What do you notice in the experience of these things? And what do you do with the knowledge you gain? Emily P. Freeman on The Next Right Thing Podcast reminded me that the goal is to pay attention to your life. How does paying attention to your life help you? To be honest, I’m great at asking all the questions, but my new Next Right Thing journal is blank.

Do you notice what makes you laugh and what makes you cry? Do you journal as a way to remember? Do you realize when you are at the end of your rope and you need a break, a change of scenery, a nap? Do you stay focused in the moment of celebrations or willing sit with the grief that has you overwhelmed? Do you pay attention to the heaviness of remembering the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood and the victory it brings to you? Do you observe God’s commandments?

“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”

Proverbs‬ ‭23:26‬ ‭KJV‬‬

When you count your blessings, you are being observant of the ways that God is fully involved in your life and personally cares for you as His child. When you observe dates on the calendar it grounds you, helps you refocus, and reminds you of the importance of schedule. God’s creation is on a schedule, we are created for seasons. There is time for feasting and there is time for feasting. Sometimes, we are in full bloom and once in awhile, we need to get away and hibernate for a season, to let the old die off to make room for new growth.

What does rest look like in your life? Are you observing sabbath, lent, the seasons? How can you pay attention today in a way that will allow you to live abundantly tomorrow?

Praying blessings over your day and your weekend! Jesus loves you.

Join the other great writers at Five Minute Friday for more thoughts on Observant

#FiveMinuteFriday #Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #1000gifts #Gratitude #JesusOnlyJesus #SoulSurrender #Lent

Experience, Hope

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” ‭‭

Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭KJV‬‬

What have the trials of your life taught you? How do your past experiences enable you to face new challenges? What experiences have you gone through that allow you to encourage and help others? How have your experiences given you hope that you can share with others?

Once upon a time, I was a mom of 4 kids under 5, (3 in diapers) living in a 2 bedroom trailer, and I thought I would never survive. I was overwhelmed and exhausted and couldn’t figure out which way was up. But I survived, they all were potty trained eventually, and they are now all semi-self-sufficient teenagers.

Which brings me to another life experience that I wonder if I will survive. Parenting teenagers is a different kind of challenge. Just like when they were babies, there are some very precious moments, there are some great memories. We have real conversations. I still comfort when they hurt. There are battles of the wills, temper tantrums (them & me). Sleepless nights. A struggle to communicate.

But they are older now and working to figure out who they are and what they want to do and who God created them to be. They have to experience some natural consequences for the choices they make. They have to use some motivation to accomplish the things they want. They have to dream and make their faith their own. And sometimes that’s really scary as a parent. And there doesn’t seem to be moms-of-teenagers support groups.

One thing I know, the God who created me, and created each one of my unique kids, He is with me. He carried me through toddlerhood and preschoolers, through school changes and thankfully a move to a larger home. He walked with me through potty training, homework, and discipline issues. He is the same God. He is still with me. He is with you. He still provides. So I live with hope toward the growth and eventual launching of my children, because God still loves them and wants what’s best for them. And God is using all things for His glory.


#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #BestKidsEver #1000gifts #ThatSameGod #GodWithUs #JesusOnlyJesus #SoulSurrender

Making a Profession out of Giving Thanks

I am a writer.


I’m also a project assistant, a wife, a mom, a child of God, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a reader. A pizza chef, dark chocolate lover, volunteer, taxi driver for my kids. Some of those things are considered a profession, others a stage/status in life. When I get overwhelmed I wonder how many titles a person can carry well. Am I doing my best in callings I have on my life? Is there anything I need to let go of for this season?


I’d like to make a profession out of being grateful. Somedays it’s easy to sit down and write a long list of all the things I’m thankful for. But in the moments of my everyday life, when things don’t go my way, when my teenagers act out against me, when the job gets a little chaotic, when the weather doesn’t cooperate with my plans, when I get interrupted… It is so easy to NOT be thankful.


So tonight, I work to train my brain and flip the switch and give praise for hard eucharisteo.

Rough bumpy ice on the driveway
Sunrises
Computer technicians
Water
Lunch breaks
Ebooks on loan
Chiropractic adjustments 
Sunshine on the back porch
Podcasts
Working through mis-communications
Learning opportunities
Discipline
Hugs through tears
Conversations
Loud music in the car
When the best husband cleans the kitchen
Lent playlists on Spotify
Cherry jelly hearts (“for the children”)
Bagel crisps
Healthy dinner
Reading Joshua with SheReadsTruth
Slippers and fuzzy blankets


May I remember these things, in the moment, and respond with grace and contentment in all things.

Can we make a profession out of giving thanks? Showing Gratitude to the One who gives all good gifts? Being thankful and content with what we have? Remembering that He will never leave us or forsake us? Perhaps that will help me (and you, and maybe even my kids) remember the that world doesn’t revolve around me! It’s Jesus, Only Jesus!

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #1000gifts #Gratitude #JesusOnlyJesus #SoulSurrender