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

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

Take a walk and look for Jesus

I took a walk this evening. Same walk I took almost 5 months ago, when I tripped over a wrinkle in the sidewalk and bit the dust and broke my hand. It was dusk, probably not the wisest, but I put my phone away. I wore my actual sneakers. And I paid attention to the rise and fall of the sidewalk.

It’s good for me to walk again. Winter and busyness and life stress has not been kind to my eating or exercise habits. I needed to know that I can walk and it’s good for me. My hand has not returned to full strength. It still hurts when I cut too many veggies, write too many words, carry too many groceries, stir dinner soups for too long. And sometimes I’m afraid it will never be what it once was.

Sometimes, it’s the simple processing of hard moments, life-altering events, the “getting back on the bike” moments. Other times, it takes a bit more. Like when I think that exactly one year ago, I was having coffee with a friend, we talked about the virus buzz, we talked about church and Jesus, we talked about teenagers and parenting, we talked about friendship. I’m pretty sure that we did not talk about online church or wearing masks or virtual school. I miss coffee in actual coffee shops with friends.

And one year later, I think of all the things I miss, how desperate I feel to return back to life as it once was, and it’s easy to focus on the things lost, the events cancelled, the schooling struggles, the grief. But I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned and I know that God has given us much more than was taken away.

I don’t want to forget the gift of endless family dinners with teenagers, family hikes, whole weekends in pajamas, technology to keep us connected, summer outside gatherings, library curbside service, processing hard junk, being more aware of social injustice, studying Lamentations, focusing on the attributes of God, flexibility of virtual school, 4-H zoom opportunities, ordering take out, still going to work every day in a safe environment, taking the time to read more.

I’m thankful for the things I learned while my hand was broken and for seeing God’s faithfulness in the way He provides. I’m thankful for hope, because that is what this year most needs. I’m thankful for Jesus because as I lean on Him and rest in Him, I learn His goodness, His faithfulness, His sovereignty.

I stop on my walk (full stop) to take pictures of the twilight hour. I come back to the car and wait some more and write with heart full of gratitude that He is with me, He gives me words, He never leaves me or forsakes me, He is always reminding me of his everlasting love.

As you reflect on the last year, because we will all reflect in some way, look for ways to give God glory, look for all the things we can be thankful for, look for the helpers, look for the blessings. What are you thankful for as you look back on the last year? Where do you see Jesus?

HopeWriterLife #amwriting #faithwriter #writeyourheartout #writeitgirl #JesusOnlyJesus #alwaysJesus #brokenbones #takeawalk #givethanks #1000gifts #gratitude #hardeucharisteo

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

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

Thankful for Serendipity – God’s Gifts

Sometimes serendipity is an icy long driveway that makes you decide to take a personal day and read and write and rest.

Some call it serendipity, some call it good karma or fate, but I know that every good gift comes from above, from the Father. Not there there is anything beneficial or by chance about an ice storm, whether minor or major. But good gifts come from all things.

As the fog settled heavy over our house and obscured my front window view, I was reminded again that through it all God is with us. God came down as Jesus and dwelt with man, and God as Holy Spirit indwells us and gives us everything we need for abundant life.

God is with me when I have a very hard time making decisions. God is with me when my teenager hates the decisions I make. God is with me when the driveway is ice and God is with me when the roads are clear. God is with you when your family member gets COVID. And when your kids’ school is virtual again. When your iced in without power. When you have opportunity to serve Him and others with housing projects and missions trips. When your flight gets canceled. When your job is overwhelming and exhausting, or when you lose your job. God meets all our needs. And God gives us all different journeys to walk and different trials to go through. But the one thing that is the same is that God is with us and God wants us to find our joy and sufficiency in Him.

Perhaps serendipity is the undeserved blessings He lavishes on me. He saved me from eternal separation from Him (my creator) and that is enough. Everything else He gives is an abundant overflow of His unconditional, ever-faithful love for us.

So I thank God for… an endless supply of good books to read. Chocolate and valentine candy. Updates on my son’s missions trip. A husband that cares for my safety. Washing machines and dryers. Coffee. Podcasts, bible reading, Spotify playlists. Crazy teenagers. Comfy stay-at-home clothes.

I am also thankful for eternal life, the body of Christ, church community. God’s Grace. God’s power and knowledge and ever presence. Physical and emotional healing. I’m thankful for His Kingdom Come.


What are you thankful for today?


#write28days #1000gifts #gratitude #HopeWriterLife #givethanks

Five Minute Friday — Sunrise

Every morning, it’s a gift. Even on the days that it’s covered with clouds or snow or rain, the sun is still rising. Even after the darkest of nights, the sun rises again. It’s easy to forget after a week of snow flurries (and one huge snowstorm) and lots and lots of clouds, but the sun is always there. And some days the sunrise takes my breath away.

I’m thankful for the gift of a sunrise, a reminder that God created all things and holds all things together. He is still in control and He is still before all things and by him all things consist. To me, the sunrise is yet another testimony to the truth of God’s Word. Because God is Creator and sustainer of the universe, the sun rises.

Because God is Creator and sustainer of my life, I know that each morning I awake and rise is another day to shine and bring Him glory. As the sun rises daily, so I need to rise to God’s Word daily. As the sun provides the warmth and light our planet needs to follow cycles and seasons, so time spent in God’s Word gives energy for the day, wisdom for upcoming decisions, hope for all our tomorrows, joy in every situation, the reminder of God’s never-ending love.

May the sunrise be a reminder of God’s Grace, Omnipotence, and Lovingkindness. May we never lose the wonder of His desire for a personal relationship with us. Let the sunrise remind you that YOU are His favorite!


#HopeWriterLife #Write28Days #FiveMinuteFriday #Sunrise #SoulSurrender #1000gifts #ChasingOutTheDark