Have you ever had one of those weeks or months or maybe even years? Whether it’s small stuff that continually goes wrong in a 24 hour time frame, or horrific stuff that leaves a cloud of despair hanging heavily over your head~the circumstances suck all the joy and laughter from your life. It’s times like this that you begin to feel utterly alone, and sometimes even a little afraid that you won’t ever laugh again.
My daughter in law sent me a snap chat the other week with the title of this post. We laughed, but there was a certain heaviness to it. And that’s what prompted my topic for my ladies banquet, as well as this post~
Live, Love, Laugh, Leave Me Alone. Learning To Surrender Control to God and Truly Enjoy Life.
After much prayer, I decided to share it with you all. My heart is burdened to help you laugh again. My heart is burdened for you to know the lasting happiness that produces that laughter, genuine laughter~ you know…the kind that makes you cry or pee your pants a little. 😉 Good old fashioned joy.
I’m going to break this series down into five topics:
Live For today
Let Things Go
Learn to Trust in God’s Power
Love God and Allow Him to Love You
This week we will focus on LIVE (For Today) and in the weeks to come I hope to share 4 more areas that will help you to laugh again.
LIVE FOR TODAY
This isn’t something we usually hear. Normally we are told to live with eternity in mind, and we definitely should, but God also tells us to find joy in the day to day and not to fret about, or fear our future.
Quite often, we have no control over our futures. We might think we do, but every moment of every day is an uncertainty. There are no guarantees. Every thought we have, every action or reaction we choose, every breath we breathe, every moment spent with God and with loved ones could be our last. We could have the perfect plan for our lives, but when we try to control every aspect of that plan and cling to it tightly in our fists, any time something goes wrong~ our joy and laughter will slowly be sucked from our souls. But, when we surrender each day to God and give Him control of our days, we know that whatever happens tomorrow or the next day or even the next year, is for our good~no matter how hard the circumstances might be.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34
“Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.” Psalm 96:2
It really seems too simple, especially if life kicks you when you’re down. The little things that get to us in a 24 hour time frame can easily be given over to the Lord, and we can lay in bed at night with the full assurance that tomorrow is another day. The times it is most difficult is when the hard hits. The diagnosis, the failed marriage, the job loss, the wayward child, the death.
Those are the times we want to scream at the world~ “LEAVE ME ALONE!”Those are the times that joy and laughter seem impossible.
My sweet friend, with Jesus, nothing is impossible.
“With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27
“With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37
(It’s pretty clear God wanted us to get this point)
When you have fallen to the ground with no fight left in you, He is laying right there on the ground next to you, holding your hand. He is whispering to your soul that He will pick you up when you are ready. He doesn’t rush you. He simply wraps you in His comfort. Joy will come again in the morning, even if He has to lay with you there all night long. He will never leave you. The joy of the Lord is your strength.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
“For the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee….He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee…” Deuteronomy 31:6,8
“The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9
“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.: Isaiah 41:13
“…Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Rejoice means to feel joy or great delight. It also means to give joy to.
Here are some ways to feel joy and delight in today:
Find something to be thankful for~ every single day.
Give God glory and praise~ every single day.
Uplift someone else~ every single day.
Don’t just seek joy for yourself,
look for ways to give joy to others~
every single day.
Look for joy in the little things.
Laugh with God. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with loved ones.
View every day as if it could be your last.
Focus on Jesus. When you feel your heart drifting search for Him.
Pursue God. He is there next to you in every beautiful thought and happy feeling you have ever had.
Think on things that bring you laughter, and then laugh again.
Remember that your joy gives your great God the greatest glory.
Find joy in today with eternity in mind. Every day is a gift, a new opportunity to find happiness and laughter. Fully surrender your days to God and ask Him to help you to focus on today, leaving your tomorrows with Him. No matter what those tomorrows hold, this life is not the end. Jesus is waiting for us with open arms. He gave His life to give us new life. A life filled with joy because of Him. The true joy that brings genuine laughter~
the kind that makes you cry or pee your pants a little. 😉
Good old fashioned joy.
A Guaranteed Happy Thanksgiving
A Thanksgiving Devotional
For weeks I had been planning this holiday with an excitement that could not be contained. My family would be traveling 700 miles to visit me for Thanksgiving. I poured over magazines with pictures of beautiful holiday table settings. Wonderful memories flooded my heart as I remembered the countless Thanksgivings spent with family, sitting around just such a table. Despite my apartment being tiny, we would all squeeze in and make it work. Mike and I had been married less than 3 years, with one child and another on the way. Morning sickness prevailed but I didn’t care~I missed home, I missed family, I missed all of us sitting around the dinner table together.
Everything began just as I had planned, but it all went downhill on Thanksgiving day. One family member after another came down with the stomach flu~in the very worst way. Everyone ended up sick except for me. It is an understatement when I tell you that our apartment was tiny. There was barely enough room to walk by each other and with only one small bathroom and 5 sick people… well you can only imagine. I had a lot of cleaning… and then more cleaning to do, with no time to rest or even celebrate. Add morning sickness to the equation and my picture perfect Thanksgiving turned into a nightmare. No sitting around a table filled with a cornucopia of delicious foods and thankful spirits.
We all want that picture perfect Thanksgiving dinner, Martha Stewart style. We have high hopes that the Turkey will turn out a beautiful golden brown, that family will all get along and that laughter along with delicious pumpkin pie will ensue.
That we will all truly be thankful.
Sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we hoped, especially during the holidays. The turkey is too dry, we burn the biscuits, we wonder why we’re the only one doing all the work, the stress levels in the kitchen are at an all time high and that one family member gets on our last nerve.
And then we lose it. Our frustrations boil over just like our mashed potatoes.
And so, as we approach this week of gratitude I would like to challenge you to focus on a different table setting. That of the last supper. There is so much we can glean from the scripture passage in John 13, and it stirs my heart. Who is sitting at your table? The focus in John 13 was not the food or even the fellowship. The focus was Jesus and the example He set for all of us as we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals.
I would like to leave you with five things to meditate on this week. It might seem lengthy, but if you choose to focus on one every day~ it’s a guarantee your Thanksgiving supper will be a happy one.
1. A gift in the gratitude~Jesus gave thanks despite knowing what was ahead. Despite the wicked betrayal in the heart of Judas, despite the foreknowledge of Peter’s denial, despite the coming abandonment of the disciples who professed their love for Him. (Luke 22:17-18, Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-23.) Maybe you are excited about Thanksgiving, or maybe you are stressing over it~ whatever your case may be, you can change your outlook by choosing to give thanks. There is so much to be thankful for, starting with our Savior. How could He possibly be thankful in that moment? And yet, He was. Emulate His gratitude. Find something to be thankful for every day leading up to the big day. A habitual heart that beats a thankful rhythm will not easily be dissuaded when faced with difficult circumstances or people. Look to Jesus and just be thankful.
2. A gift in the giving~ Jesus became a servant. He never complained, but in humble love washed His disciples feet~ even the feet of the one who would betray Him. (John 13:4&5) Prepare your heart to be a servant this Thanksgiving, even to those you feel don’t deserve it. Judas certainly didn’t deserve it, but that didn’t stop our Savior. Serving others should never be viewed as an unwanted duty. Choose to bless others by the love you put into that service. Determine not to have a grumbling heart, but instead a thankful servant’s heart that God can use. Have the heart of Jesus.
3. A gift in the guidance~Despite knowing Judas would betray Him, Jesus chose to love and serve him and told us that we should follow His example. (John 13:11, 14-15.) We are human, there will always be that one person that annoys us (because they are human too) despite the little idiosyncrasies that get on our last nerve, none of them compare to sitting at supper with Judas. As you sit to supper this Thanksgiving, remember Jesus example and His words to us in admonishing that we follow that example.
4. A gift in the getting~Jesus actually told us something simple, yet profound. By following His example we will in turn be blessed with happiness. (John 13:17.) Okay, who doesn’t want happiness during the holidays? Who doesn’t want to fall into bed at night after a wonderful meal and precious moments with family and friends on Thanksgiving, and have your heart full of happiness? It doesn’t have to be something we wish for. Happiness can be our reality this Thanksgiving if we put into practice the steps He outlined for us in His word. Become a servant of love.
5. A gift in the glorifying~The last thing I want to leave you with in preparation of your week ahead is the very gift you will give to others by following Jesus example. (John 13:31&32, 34&35) You will be loving others with a true servant’s heart and in the doing, that love will glorify God. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? It’s not about us. It’s not about the food or the Pinterest perfect table setting. It’s all about the joy in sharing the love of Jesus. It’s all about the happiness in the serving. It’s all about the glory of God.
Remember that Jesus is sitting at your table with you this Thanksgiving. He is all you will ever need in making beautiful God moments and memories. As I look back at that Thanksgiving so many years ago and the disaster that it was, it still holds precious memories to me. I can even laugh with my brothers at the events that holiday held and cherish the time spent with my mom and dad, who are no longer with us. Yes, there was a lot of serving, but there was also so much love; and the happiness my heart holds at the time we had together is one that I will treasure forever.
A gift in the gratitude. A gift in the giving. A gift in the guidance. A gift in the getting. A gift in the glorifying. All because of Jesus.
A Thanksgiving gift of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
His eyes twinkled as he hid a surprise behind his back. You could feel his excitement when he announced- “I have a present for you! “ he handed me the bag and watched as I pulled each item out. A ruler, some pencils, his mom’s best pair of scissors, a brand new tube of toothpaste and a folded up piece of sandpaper. I exclaimed over each thing, and then explained to him that mama might need her scissors and she would be looking for that toothpaste later. He agreed to put everything back, except the sand paper. He handed it to me with a smile and said “in case you want to make something”.
We played for a while and then, when I knew he wasn’t looking, I tucked that sand paper far behind some of my daughter’s things on the kitchen counter. I would tell her later that it was there. As I opened the front door to leave, he came running around the corner. “Grandma you forgot this!” he said, and proudly handed me that sand paper. HOW had he found it??? He wasn’t even in the same room when I hid it!!! I couldn’t stop laughing when I got home and told my husband the story.
So often I believe we see the love of God through the lens of our human hearts. We gage the goodness of God on the big picture of our lives. If things aren’t going the way we would like, we tend to feel miserable and defeated. We complain and become ungrateful. We miss the abundance of small gifts tucked away in our lives. Gifts that God has already given to us. We miss the tremendous love God has poured into every single thing we have been so blessed to receive. In our eyes that small piece of sandpaper is worthless and we disregard it.
Or, we look at our own heart and what we have to offer the Lord and often feel just like that piece of sandpaper. We see the talents and possessions of others and wish for what they have. We tend to think we have nothing to offer God because we compare ourselves to others. If only we could give God that shiny pair of special scissors or the brand new tube of toothpaste. But those gifts belong to someone else. They aren’t ours to give. And then we look down at ourselves and think we are worthless, just like that piece of sandpaper. How could God ever love or use us? Surely He must disregard us.
When Little Gabe came running to me, holding that piece of sandpaper that I had so flippantly disregarded, God opened my eyes. He gave me a glimpse not only into all He has blessed me with that I so easily disregard at times, but also the love He has for me when I humbly come to Him with nothing to offer except myself. You see, I wouldn’t want anything else from my grandchildren. That innocent love they have in the giving is enough to make your heart burst, and I realized that’s exactly the way my Heavenly Father sees me. He doesn’t want fancy, shiny Charisse, He just wants Charisse.
God wants us to come to him like a child. We need to stop looking at what we have to offer through our human lens. God wants us to know that He only wants us, not the gifts and possessions we can give Him. If he has our heart, He has everything.
That piece of sandpaper is lovingly displayed on a stack of bibles in my home. It means so much to me. A little piece of paper filled with love and assurance that God my Father can use any of us if we are willing to give Him ourselves. Don’t look for the shiny and the new and forget all the little pieces of beautiful sandpaper He has already blessed you with, and don’t tuck away what you feel doesn’t measure up in God’s eyes.
Today I will whisper thank you to Jesus for all the blessings He has given me that I so easily disregard in seasons of discontent. I will open my eyes to the love and grace He has so readily poured into my life and I will be grateful. I may not ever know how God can possibly find something in me to be used for His glory but as I give Him all the love in my meager, willing, folded up, sandpaper heart,
with a smile I will say-
“in case you want to make something”.
And I will know that that is all He ever wanted.
I Samuel 16:7
One of our nearby towns used to have the very best dollar store.
It wasn’t like dollar stores today. It was a quaint little store downtown with old wood floors, and aisles upon aisles of treasures. Because money was sparse, it was a favorite spot to shop when my kids were little.
Going all out with your decor for the holidays wasn’t as big a deal back then. Perhaps because we didn’t have social media to compare our decor, (or lack thereof) to others. At the time, I can remember watching a Thanksgiving special on television with my children. I saw a mantle lit up with an incredible array of Autumn radiance, and I wished for that. Beautiful Fall leaves in rich colors, with fruits and berries and twinkling lights.
That week when we stopped by the dollar store, I knew I wanted to recreate the look. That wonderful old store had a section full of exactly what I was looking for. Because I couldn’t afford to buy it all at once, every week I would purchase five items to add to my leaf garland, hoping that the following week there would still be more to choose from. I did this for a whole month until I finally had the look my heart had longed for…
With the holidays quickly approaching, it can become easy to lose sight of the bountiful array each holiday represents. Going into a month of humbling gratitude that leads us right into a month of adoration for a Savior born to man.
The whole world seems to skip past the gratitude of this month and fast forward to the “happy” holiday with its festive music, presents and decorations, myself included. It makes us reminisce back to traditions and “feel good” moments. Everyone wants that happy feeling.
But in the rush to achieve this happiness, it ends up alluding us. With the frenzy of skipping right past the gratitude, the stress of all the “to do’s”(with not enough time to do them) comes too quickly and overwhelms us. Instead of enjoying what should be a beautiful time, we miss the wonder of it all and the gratitude for it.
We want that bountiful array, but we want it all right now. Suddenly you’re being asked if you have your decorating and shopping done. If you have your cookies baked. If your tree is up. If you are going to attend the many Christmas activities and parties being held. And in all of that, we miss the gratitude for Jesus.
As the end of 2021 quickly approaches, I want to encourage you today to slow down. Determine to take in every single moment of this month. Don’t rush right past it. Each week pick out 5 things to be thankful for. Ponder them. Cherish them. Treasure them. Don’t try to fast forward to the whole package, instead take one day at a time and with a heart of thankfulness, move into the season of our Savior with overwhelming gratitude instead of overwhelming stress. You won’t have to worry if there will be enough to be thankful for as each week passes, you will have a bounty to choose from if you’re truly looking and your garland of gratitude will become fuller and fuller as you add to it…
I still have that garland and all the items I purchased for it so many years ago. I still put it up every year. I still wonder in amazement as I add each piece and look at that beautiful array when I’m finished. I’m sure that nowadays I could just purchase a pre-made garland full of all the things that make mine beautiful, but I would lose the special joy in adding each piece and remembering. Years and years of thankful memories flood my heart as I slowly put mine together, and I am reminded of all the gifts God has bestowed upon this undeserving soul of mine.
Savor in the sacredness of the season to come by slowing down and focusing on today and the bountiful array of glory God has given you to be grateful for. Don’t miss it. Don’t try to grasp for happiness without thankfulness. Happiness comes from a thankful heart. Thankfulness for the little pieces of beauty God adds to every day and gratefulness for a Savior born to take away the sins of all of mankind.
Yes, savor in the sacredness and sacrifice of your Savior and look back on this season in grateful amazement at the array of wonder you hold in your heart.
Wonder you will treasure for years to come.
I Thessalonians 5:18
There are times that God just awes me.
Moments that might not mean a thing to someone else.
Every time an awe moment hits, I feel the closeness of His presence. The tears and praises intermingle as my soul acknowledges the fact that the very God who created my great big world is also sitting right next to little me, giving me a much needed hug.
As I play the piano week after week for our church services, I am often in awe that my hands can actually create a melody. Every aspect of it has me amazed. It’s not that I’m good at it, because I definitely am not (and that’s not me pretending to be humble. It’s simply the facts). It’s the very idea that I can play the melodies to hundreds of well loved hymns that stir my soul. My hands. God using my hands. You would think that after 52 years of playing it wouldn’t surprise me anymore, but it hits me every time. As I look down at the fingers that touch each key to create such a melody, I am almost in disbelief. It’s something I will never take for granted.
There are so many other things that God uses to awe me.
Looking into the precious eyes of my grandchildren is like looking into a miracle. I am in awe as I view the childhood eyes of my husband, myself and my children all in the same sweet child standing before me.
Watching my adult children with a humbling pride (if there can be such a thing) at the amazing ways God is using the talents He has given each of them to further His kingdom.
Having a “me” moment and feeling sorry for myself, yet not praying about my feelings or even sharing those emotions with a single person. In turn~receiving 4 unexpected acts of encouragement within 12 hours that blessed my heart and soul to its core. Knowing that it was God and not taking a single one for granted.
There are awe moments in so many things. The little girl dreams I had that have come true for me. My husband and best friend, who loves me despite me. A home filled with beautiful things that I love. Not just physical things, but memories of my babies. Love and laughter. Seasons of change. Memories yet to be made.
My church right next door and the wonderful facilities God has blessed us with. My church family that has become everything to me. My hometown and the sunsets over our lake that always take my breath away.
The Bible. The very words of God that I get to hold in my hands. Words that are so often taken for granted.
Jesus dying on the cross and saving my sinful soul, taking away every sin~ past present and future. Jesus, who holds my hand through every scary situation, who takes away every anxious thought, who hugs a heartbroken soul, who turns my sorrow into laughter.
God who created my great big world, yet sits right here with little me.
Too often we are tempted to ask~ “Where is God in all of this?” Sweet friend, God is in the still small beauty that surrounds you at this very minute. Take your eyes off of the messiness and look right in front of you.
Don’t dwell on the sad. Don’t fill your mind with all the negative. When you feel yourself slipping down that dark tunnel of despair, turn your eyes back to the light. Look for your own awe moments. All the gifts that God has given. Gifts that surround you at this very moment.
Those moments that don’t mean a thing to someone else~ those are your own God moments. We take so many of them for granted. We don’t deserve a single one, and yet God in all His magnificent love has seen fit to bless us with them. Open your eyes and see your world for the very first time. The great big world that belongs to you…
And realize that God is sitting right there with you, no matter how small you feel.
Above every other awe moment~
that is the one that truly brings me to my knees.
That is the one that causes tears and praise to intermingle. That is the one that will never cease to take my breath away.
He is here.
Right here with me.
Her head was bowed.
A worn and tattered bible lay softly on her lap. She read each word as if it were the greatest treasure she ever held.
Her head was bowed. Bills lay all over the old kitchen table. A jar of loose change that came up short. Her words were barely audible as she spoke to her Savior. A smile was on her face. Full of assurance that He would take care.
Heads were bowed all over the restaurant. Simple meals sat before them. Prayers of thanksgiving abounded for the goodness God had blessed them with.
Laughter and conversation ensued.
Joy was present.
People were present.
Heads were bowed as they knelt next to their bed. A tiny bedroom with only a small nightstand. Soft singing could be heard in praises to their Heavenly Father. A roof over their heads. A soft pillow to fall asleep on. Contended children in the bedroom next to them.
Children whose little eyes captured each of these moments and remembered.
“as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”
2 Corinthians 6:10
Her head was bowed. Scrolling mindlessly on a device filled with staged perfection. Unhappiness furrowed her brow, yet she could not avert her eyes.
Psalm 107:8-9, 119:105
Her head was bowed. A device filled with objects sure to bring happiness, one of many credit cards in her hand. “Purchase now” was always such an easy option, yet happiness always alluded her.
Heads were bowed all over the restaurant. A fork in one hand and a phone in the other. A mindless murmur of conversation could be heard. No thankfulness. No laughter.
People without presence. Proverbs 18:24
Their heads were bowed. Next to each other in bed, yet both in their own little worlds. Each looking at their device. Almost lost in the immense size of the bed they lay in, yet a bed that seemed small for the room that held it. Both still working late into the night. Worlds apart, yet in the same room. Promises to spend time with children had been broken. Again. Psalm 127:1-3
Children whose little eyes captured each of these moments and remembered.
What will our children grow up remembering? As they see your head bowed will it be bowed to your Savior or to your device?
Devices will always be around.
They will become easier and faster.
They will always pull us in.
They will lie to us in making us believe that the grass is always greener.
That other people’s lives are better.
That it’s ok to go into debt because you deserve that new outfit, purse, shoes, furniture, vacation. That it doesn’t matter that you work 90% of your life to pay for what you deserve.
To pay for happiness.
That God is not in control and He will not help you, that only you can help yourself.
That it’s okay to check those notifications, to scroll, to answer emails.
That you are present with your husband, your children, your family because they are sitting next to you in the same room.
Yes, your device is lying to you.
I once read~ “Your cell phone will be small forever. Your children will not”. We only have our children for a short amount of time, and then they will be gone.
All your children’s tomorrow’s.
What will they remember of your head that is bowed?
Teach them to go to Jesus. Isaiah 54:13
Not their device.
My daughter recently shared a YouTube video entitled ‘Day in the Life’.
I smiled as I read all the sweet comments people posted, until I got to the very end.
The last comment implied that her life as a stay at home mom was outdated and old fashioned. A slam against everything that she loves, and the calling she feels God has placed upon her heart.
I thought back to earlier that evening. I had been babysitting my granddaughters. As I folded clothes in my laundry room, they laughed and played along side me, and in that moment my heart felt so incredibly full. Precious memories came flooding back of similar moments I shared with my children when they were that age.
You see~I was living my dream.
I am living my dream.
All I ever wanted to be when I was little was a wife and mother. Sure I had hobbies and thought about vocations I might enjoy, but ultimately the dream was to be a wife and mom. Just like my mom.
I never really knew how deep my passion was for such a dream until I was much older.
Right in the middle of this mom life,
despite all its craziness, I realized my dreams had come true.
I cannot explain the peace that comes over me when I am home, doing home things. I’m in my element. Being a wife, a mom, a grandma. Cooking and cleaning and laundry and baking and taking care of this home God has given me and the hearts He has placed in my hands. Little hearts to mold and nourish and raise and love. And then to let go.
There is nothing on this earth that I would rather do.
But apparently, that is outdated.
It’s old fashioned to think that way.
It’s a ludicrous idea to some to actually love taking care of your home and the little hearts God has given you.
And to me, that is sad.
I raised three daughters and a son. They are all grown now and we’ve added 6 grandchildren to the mix. Two of my daughters have jobs outside the home and one has chosen to be that old fashioned vocation ~ A stay at home mom. I am immensely proud of all of them.
Do I believe one is better than the other?
Do I think it’s wrong to work outside the home? Let me be very, very clear here~
NO I do not, but I do believe it’s wrong when one of the greatest vocations since the beginning of time has been made into a mockery. What has become of us as a nation when being a stay at home mom has been belittled and looked down upon? Where mothers who choose that life are made to feel “less than” or stupid.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are women out there who abuse the system. Who don’t understand the true meaning of ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ and all that it entails.
But to those moms who are living their dream with a passion~ it is a high calling.
I am not ashamed to say that I am living my dream. In fact, I’m not ashamed to say that I love my husband, that I love making him his favorite meals or taking care of the home that his job has helped provide.
Sadly, even marriage has been deprecated along with the homemaker. If you dare to say that you love cooking for your husband, or God forbid sharing intimacy together, instead of a helpmeet and lover, you are ridiculously labeled a ‘live in maid’ or even worse, a ‘sex slave’.
Why do I find joy in these things that I do?
Why do I believe I am living the dream? Because of the crazy amount of love my heart holds.
Love for my God Who has provided me such a beautiful family and this dream home I have been given to live in and take care of.
Love for my husband, who daily loves me back in so many different ways that too often I take them for granted.
Love for my children, and the breathtaking wonder that these super, awesome adults were once cradled lovingly inside my womb.
I’m living the dream because my heart is overflowing with thankfulness and love.
Today I sat across from my three grandsons as they ate a piece of their mommy’s homemade carrot cake. The atmosphere might have appeared messy to some. School work was on the table, dishes were in the sink and all I could think was~ my daughter is living the dream too. What a dream. She’s raising boys who will grow up into men. Men who will have a part in leading our country into a better tomorrow. Maybe preachers or fire fighters. Maybe teachers or coaches. Men who will have an impact. Men who will become husbands and fathers.
The kind of husbands you want for your little girls one day. The kind of fathers you want for your grandchildren.
What a tremendous calling and privilege has been placed upon her heart.
The raising of future husbands and fathers.
I so often hear on social media the need we have for strong women. I cannot think of a stronger role model for generations to come than that of a stay at home mom.
The time we have with the little lives entrusted to us is barely a whisper in the echo of eternity. But that whisper can become a mighty shout for God’s glory in the halls of their futures. Every single moment spent at home with them is an investment into that future.
Please hear me Mama, your dream may not be the vocation of stay at home mom like mine is. That’s okay. There were several women in the Bible who worked outside the home. Maybe it is your dream to be a stay at home mom, but you don’t have the means to make it a reality. Regardless of what each of our situations may be, I think we can all agree that our children and grandchildren need a better future.
I truly believe that future begins in the home, with the heart of a mother.
Our focus needs to shift. It needs to change. The title Mom should never be downgraded. Instead, it should be applauded. It is a strong woman who has chosen such a job. A woman with some of the greatest strengths of all.
The strength of thankfulness and of love.
It isn’t a strength she possess on her own, it is a strength that can only come from an even greater love.
That of her heavenly Father.
As I was leaving my daughter’s home, her youngest hurt himself and came to me crying. I kissed his little finger and the boo boo magically went away. Someday he will be doing the same for his own children. Tears welled up in my eyes knowing I have had a small part in such a beautiful high calling.
To be his mom’s mom.
To be a stay at home mom.
To think that God has allowed me this is beyond my wildest dreams~
and I get to live that dream every single day.
It hit me this morning.
I’m a grandma telling grandma stories, and that’s how this generation views me. The same way I viewed grandmothers when I was a teenager and young mom. The grandmothers who told stories of the Great Depression and how hard things were. The grandmothers who told me how easy I had it compared to their lives at my age. You know, the stories about walking 5 miles to school, up hill, in a snowstorm.
The stories we rolled our eyes over.
The crazy thing is, I don’t “feel” like those grandmas “looked”. Does that make sense? Because they looked old to me and I still FEEL young.
Life like it was yesterday. Every story.
*I would tell you about the day I was thrilled to move a tiny stove, and a refrigerator into our apartment. I would tell you the story of how we were able to purchase our first microwave. Our appliances didn’t match, but boy was I grateful. Who would’ve thought that one day God would give me new, matching appliances?
Yet, He did.
*I would tell you what a luxury it is to be able to go to a salon and get my hair done once a month. Except for the brief period that I was a redhead, if I wanted blonde hair when my kids were little I had to wait for a visit from my mom twice a year.
(We lived in another state).
*I would tell you how I have instant messaging from an iPhone and an Apple Watch instead of stories about the cost of long distance phone calls to family members that could only last 15 minutes and only be made on Saturday.
*I would tell the story of newlyweds and their first television set. Only one station and a crazy amount of static yet now I have a very large, “useless to God’s kingdom” TV with hundreds of channels.
*I have a washer and dryer that are actually in my home.
*A closet full of clothes and shoes and purses.
I used to dream of having a fireplace.
These are only a few things, the things this generation takes for granted. If I listed all the things God has blessed me with~ from running water and electricity to vehicles and vacations~
I could surely write a book.
We take so much for granted, and the more I thanked God this morning for the big things and the things that we probably don’t think twice about, the more I realized that. And I believe that’s why there is so much unhappiness, so much unrest, so much longing for more. I believe it’s the very reason so many are discouraged and depressed. They’re missing all the things around them that God has ALREADY blessed them with. Things that this grandma prayed for. Things that my God blessed me with. Things that I look back on and remember feeling guilty for even asking, but silly things God has provided to show me again and again how much He loves me.
And even though I remember occasionally wishing for matching appliances or a fireplace~ that’s not what stands out most in my mind. What stands out most is the joy, the happiness, a beautifully blessed life with my husband and children.
Our laughter despite our lack.
Perhaps the reason I did not feel like I was missing out or like life wasn’t fair was because everything was not there for the taking. I was brought to my knees each time God provided, because it was truly a little miracle in my life and not just a swipe of the credit card.
I encourage you today to stop and look around. Notice every single little thing and thank God for that. And in the thanking, realize how very much he loves you to bless you so abundantly. Maybe that’s why grandmas talk about how hard they had it when they were younger. With age comes wisdom and wisdom reminds us that it’s good to never ever take anything for granted. To continually be thankful. I don’t ever want to forget.
One day you will be a grandma like me telling your children and grandchildren all about your life and how much they take for granted. I hope that you can look back on today and smile, because today was the day you realized that you were blessed beyond measure.
Not just blessed because of the many things God has provided for you, but blessed in the breathtaking knowledge of His incredible love for you.
Old seemed so far away.
I was on vacation. Laying in the sand, soaking up the sun, listening to the waves. Getting browner by the minute, and loving every second of it. I took my young body for granted. Never worrying about what I ate or didn’t eat, never worried about joints aching or not being able to open jars. Never worried about wrinkles or skin cancer.
Those thoughts never once entered my mind.
Yes I took life for granted.
And then I had a few kids, and pretty soon I realized these kids really, truly needed me. I loved them with an ache that could not be compared to anything I’d ever experienced. And suddenly, I was worried about skin cancer and what I ate or didn’t eat.
As I lifted each child,
as I hauled a baby around on my hip that supported a pregnant belly above it,
I no longer took that body for granted.
I lathered on sunscreen and wrinkle cream.
I took vitamins and ate healthier.
I spent more time in God’s word instead of magazines with beautiful models on their covers. I began to see things differently as each year went by.
Pretty soon my arms and hands were lifting boxes as each child moved into their new homes. I was unpacking kitchen utensils and bathroom necessities for them. I was helping hang pictures and making up beds in their new bedrooms.
Bedrooms that were no longer above me upstairs.
And later in the evening I was rubbing medicinal cream on achey joints and back muscles.
I was missing them.
And I was remembering.
I was remembering a young 20 year old basking in the sun. Unpacking boxes in her new apartment. Welcoming each child into her heart and home, and taking so much for granted.
And I whispered thank you to Jesus.
Because I never really realized all He gave me, and I took so much of it for granted.
I determined that I no longer would.
And I was watching my dad before he passed. How slowly he moved. How hard it was for him to see like he used to.
How easily he tired.
And yet, he still smiled. He still laughed.
He still enjoyed life.
And I felt young again.
And I knew that every day would be a gift. Every day would hold beauty.
Every day would be a day I would look back on with either happiness or sorrow,
and every day I would fight for that happiness.
And I would tell you~
don’t take it for granted.
Cherish every single minute of every single day and thank Jesus for it, because it goes by so quickly. Thank God for your young self. Don’t take your body for granted. Thank God for that body and all it’s able to do. Thank God for His word and the wisdom it gives you each and every day. Thank God for your children and for achey joints and backs, because you were able to help them. Because they still needed you.
Thank God that you miss them~
because He gave you so much beauty to miss.
Thank God and don’t ever take another minute of another day of your beautiful life for granted again.
FINDING THE GOOD IN THE GRIEVING
I realize this is a very long post, but I ask you to bear with me because once again, I’m going to be brutally honest here and admit some things I’m dealing with. Things I don’t want to think about, let alone write about. But things that God has given me to help me through this. Steps that I think can truly help others.
I know many of you have been anticipating 2021 since March of 2020.
It’s been a year of horrors, and people desperately need to believe everything will change for the better in the coming year.
But I am struggling.
Thanksgiving and Christmas~
decorating shopping, wrapping, baking, Hallmark movies and Christmas music~
all of these things masked the deep ache of grief in my heart.
I didn’t want to face it just like I don’t want to face 2021.
I don’t want to move forward.
My heart wants to go back in time.
I’m facing the responsibilities that go along with losing your last parent. Packing up a lifetime of memories my dad held on to. My memories. I don’t want to go through his drawers and cupboards and make the hard decisions on what gets thrown away, or given away, or kept. I want to keep it all, right down to the tape dispenser and air freshener he recently purchased.
No, my heart doesn’t want to move forward. Instead, I want to go back in time and just sit with him there in his living room. Laughing about something funny my grandchildren did. Sharing a chocolate. Reminiscing. I want to see his red Jeep outside my front door as he stops by for his daily check in.
I want to tell him one more time how much I love him.
I know many of you are in the same boat. This year has taken so many loved ones.
The heartbreak has been unfathomable.
In the past 5 months I’ve written 7 posts on a variety of things that can change your life for the better.
Today my own heart longs to be changed.
I don’t want to be sad. I don’t want to mask the pain with busyness or superficial happiness. I don’t want to continue to push it down into the recesses of my soul and pretend it isn’t there, always looming over me like a black cloud.
I don’t want to dwell on “what if’s” and “could have been’s”.
How do I move past this deep ache of grief?
I understand that everyone deals with grief differently. My own personality does not want to read someone else’s words on how to deal with grief.
The devil knows this.
He knows our personalities and he will use our own deceitful hearts against us. (Jeremiah 17: 9) He tricks me into believing that I am unique in my pain and no one can possibly understand enough to write anything that will help.
But he is wrong.
God has continually been tugging at my heart. He will never leave me.
He will not give up on me~
even when I feel like giving up on me.
He is always whispering to my sadness~”I am right here Charisse.” (Romans 8:38&39)
And so, today I want to share some simple things God has used to comfort me. I am a work in progress. My words are not the ‘end all’ solution. They are a day by day choice. Every single day has new challenges and I know I am facing some even harder ones in the coming weeks.
1. Ask God for help- As I have said in my previous ‘life changing’ posts, my number 1 tip will always, always, always be to ask God for help. You will never conquer the next 6 steps if you do not take this very first one. (Psalms 16:11, Romans 8:26, John 14:16-18, 26, I Peter 5:7)
2. Stay in Gods word- The minute I slip away and allow other things to come before, or even replace my time spent talking to God or reading His word is the minute the heartbreaking grief takes control. (John 15:11, I Thessalonians 5:17) Every morning I must get out of bed and choose joy. (Nehemiah 8:10) Choose God, His words, His promises, His peace. Some days when I wake up I just know it’s going to be a good day. I smile. I tell myself I can do this. Other mornings, I just want to hide under the covers and sleep the day away so I don’t have to deal. I don’t know why one morning can be so different from the next, but these are the days that I must choose wisely. I must choose God. Which takes me back to point number 1. I cannot do this in my own strength, so on days like this I cry out to Him and ask Him to help me. Some days I am silently begging Him for help over and over and over again. Even though the day may feel like it was the worst day ever, when I lay my head on my pillow that night I realize I made it through, but only because of Him. If we could see our lives the way God can~if we could understand how horrible things would have been without His continuing presence~we would realize that even on our worst days He was right there with us and got us through it. (Jeremiah 33:3) Tomorrow is a new day. (Psalms 118:24)
3. Face your grief- as much as I don’t want to, I have realized that I cannot pretend my dad is just gone visiting my brothers. I cannot push the pain down deep and not think about it, because in doing so the pain will remain debilitating. I must face it, and in facing it a myriad of other steps come into play.
4. Cry. Talk it out. Ask for help and prayer- We should not feel shame for the grief we are going through. We do not have to pretend we have it all together. We need to cry and not bottle everything inside. This is an area I have a hard time with. I do not want to cry because I do not want to cause my children worry or sadness and I don’t want my grandchildren to see me sad. I have realized that this not only makes the process harder, but drags the grief out longer and longer. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, for someone to just come and sit with you as you talk about what you’re going through or just need to reminisce. (Galatians 6:2) There is nothing wrong with asking others to please pray for you when you are having a bad day. (I Thessalonians 5:25, James 5:16, Matthew 18:20) There is nothing wrong with crying. (Psalms 56:8-13) There is nothing in the Bible that says that we shouldn’t cry, only that we should not cry as if we have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) Which brings me to my next point.
5. Eternity- God has given us this amazing, unaltering hope through the shed blood of His Son Jesus on the cross. Eternity. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, if we in repentance accept His gift of salvation~ God promises us eternity with Him in heaven. (I Thessalonians 4:14) My daddy did this and I have the full assurance from God’s word that my dad is at home in heaven right now. (Romans 6:8, John 14:2, I John 5:13, II Corinthians 5:8) If I choose to focus on my dad instead of myself~ it changes my whole perspective. Why would I choose to wish for him to be here with me, when he is in the very presence of his God? His Heavenly Father who loved him so greatly that He sent His Son to die for Him? My cousin so sweetly reminded me of this on Christmas Day. His very words were~”he is celebrating Christ with your mom right now.” My parents are celebrating Christ, and what a celebration!!! They are in glory. No more pain. (Revelation 21:4) Only praises. (Psalms 89:5, Luke 15:10)
6. Focus on the good and be thankful- This can be a hard one because when we focus on the good and happy memories, they often bring the tears as well. I know there will come a day when my tears turn into happy, thankful tears. And so, I will remember all the happy times. All the moments turned into memories. The moments that wouldn’t seem particularly special at all to anyone else, but hold beautiful happiness to me. Moments that I thank God for. (Philippians 4:6) As much as my heart hurts and wants those moments back, if I continually remember step number 1, I know that God will help me to be thankful and to see how amazing it was that I had all those silly, special, mundane moments with my dad here in Caseville the last four years.
7. Live every day as if it were your last- (Psalms 90:12b) We do not know what tomorrow holds. (James 4:14) We aren’t promised tomorrow, or even today. Knowing this, and with God’s help, I am moving into the future. Today. January 1, 2021. I am resolving to live every day to the fullest. To see the beauty in every single thing~ whether that’s the snow storm in our forecast, whether that’s the silly things my husband does that tend to irritate me or my aching back that I threw out putting Christmas decorations away~ I am asking God to show me the good in every singe thing. And my friend~ there is SO MUCH GOOD. (James 1:17) Beautiful, fresh clean snow. A picture of a new beginning. A husband that loves me despite all my irritating qualities (like putting away heavy Christmas boxes without asking for help) and then waits on me hand and foot. Time spent sitting with him because, as much as I want to, I can’t move. And realizing how precious this time of doing ‘nothing’ is. I am resolving to truly be present for my grandchildren. To stop and listen to their childish babbling and soak in every word. To play with them and create beautiful moments they can someday remember and be thankful for. So I will ask you~ how do you want your friends and your loved ones to remember you right now? Today? If you drew your last breath as you fell asleep tonight, just as my dad did, would they remember sadness or would they remember joy? Not a masked happiness but the true joy that only comes from God?
I want my friends and loved ones to remember joy. I want my husband and children and grandchildren to remember my laughter. I want them to remember me smiling, just as I will always hold the memory of my dad.
My sweet, precious dad outside my front door in his red Jeep. Smiling.
Smile again with me my friends.
I promise, God can change your life!
Ask Him to help you find the good again.
There wasn’t a better feeling in the whole world than the feeling she had right now.
Snuggled on her daddy’s lap.
Laughing at her little brother.
Listening to Andy Williams as he told her It Was The Most Wonderful Time.
Seeing the glow of the fireplace as it danced across the tinsel that hung from the tree. Smiling at her beautiful mom all dressed up, yet working in the kitchen preparing the turkey. Little wax angels on the window sill watching over her.
A snowman candle on the piano and daddy’s teddy bear tucked on her lap. Christmas books laid out, ready to read on this perfect Christmas Eve.
Her tiny heart was so full.
My tiny heart was so full.
Others might laugh at the things I choose to display at Christmas time~
The books, the candles, my dads teddy bear. My parents retro Christmas bulbs or the fruited wreath and basket my mom always displayed~
but all of these things are beautiful reminders to me of those I love.
Reminders of my mom and my dad who aren’t here with me this year to celebrate the holiday they both loved so much. The holiday they made so magical for me. Each one of these things is a piece of them, a piece of my heart. Even though they are simple heirlooms, they remind me of a heart full of thankfulness for those I love so dearly. They remind me that even though my heart misses them, I cannot be sad as I celebrate Thanksgiving because they have left me so much joy and happiness.
They have left me the gift of gratitude.
I want to leave that same joy and happiness for my own children and grandchildren.
This year has been horrific for many of us and yet, my heart that once was so tiny is now so full.
How can I not be thankful?
I have so much to be thankful for.
I lost my daddy, but I will never lose the legacy he left me. I will never lose the beautiful memories my heart clings to. I will never lose the love he gave. I will never lose the magic of Christmas he instilled in me.
Today I snuggle with my granddaughters. The glow from the fireplace dances off the ornaments that were once my parents. Andy Williams is telling us It’s The Most Wonderful Time. The teddy bear is tucked on Ellie’s lap as Clara holds our manger’s baby Jesus.
I want their tiny hearts to be full.
Someday when I’m gone and they’re up in my attic looking through my boxes, I want them to cherish the decorations that only they might hold so dear. Others might not understand why they choose to display them. My prayer is that when they do, they don’t remember the Thanksgiving grandma was so sad but instead how very much they were loved and how much they have to be thankful for.
Yes, there is always so very much to be thankful for. Fill the tiny hearts in your life with that love and thankfulness this Thanksgiving.
Give them the gift of gratitude.
Psalms 78:4-7, 102:18,
I Thessalonians 5:18
II Corinthians 9:11
Philippians 4:11, 13
JJHeller I Have Enough
Do you know how to pray?
I’m confessing my faults here.
It doesn’t always come easy for me.
I’m not a morning person at all,
and I’m not a social butterfly. Two things that really seem to hinder my prayer life at times.
I’ve written articles on this before but even after 54 years, I can’t say I’ve got it down.
I don’t wake up and automatically talk to God. I’m one of those “don’t talk to me for 2 hours” kind of non-morning people.
I wish when that alarm went off I was praising Jesus instead of grumbling all the way to the coffee maker.
From the moment I wake up, a thousand thoughts run through my head. The first ten or twenty are usually “I want to go back to sleep”, but then I start thinking ahead about my day and my schedule.
I have a hard time just sitting and being still. My hands are always doing something. My mind is always thinking ahead. For me, bible reading comes easy. It’s a task that I am physically doing.
Prayer not so much.
I am an introvert, a quiet thinker but not a big talker.
For some reason I dread even talking on the phone. I’ve heard that women talk way more than men, but in my case my husband must say three times the words I do in a day.
And then, as soon as I do start talking to God, my mind begins to wander and I’m thinking of everything I want to accomplish that day.
I know that’s not God, that’s Satan trying to limit my prayer life. He knows what our weaknesses are and he knows how to use them against us.
When I think of goals, I often think about the account of Moses shining so brightly after he talked to God. Deep down that is my desire. To just shine for Jesus. To just talk to Him so big and so often that everyone knows He is my Jesus. He is my everything.
Listening to sermons and reading devotions and going to church can all motivate but having a personal one on one time with Jesus is the only thing that will truly help us get to know God and learn what it means to talk to Him as a Father and Friend.
To shine from the inside out.
You might be completely different than I am. Prayer might come easy to you but Bible reading is harder. Either way, I hope these next tips can challenge you as you talk to God on a day to day basis.
1. First and foremost, I want you to ask yourself~am I a child of God? I know that I mentioned in my last article that my first tip will always be to ask God for help, but before you can
do that~ Do you know if you are
truly His child? We are not all
“good”. All of us have sinned.
We are born sinners. Romans
3:12,23. From that tiny white lie
that you told to the murderers
on death row. We were all born
with a sin nature and can never
be good enough or do enough
good deeds to somehow make it
to heaven when we die.
That’s why Jesus had to come
and die for our sins. He paid the
debt we owed to God for all the
wrong we’ve ever done. We
have to believe in Him, repent
and receive Him to be
permanently forgiven of our sins
and become God’s child.
Romans 10:9&10. This isn’t a
“get out of jail free” card or a
ticket you hand to God when
you die that says “I said a
prayer, so I get one free pass to
heaven”. This is a true prayer of
repentance and forgiveness
from the heart that leads to a
beautiful relationship with God
for all of eternity. John 3:16. If
you don’t have a relationship
with God, the rest of this article
will be of no help to you. If this is
something you have questions
about, please message me. With
all my heart I would love to talk
to you further about this.
~So, with that being said~
2. ASK God for help. If you don’t know where to start, if you don’t know what to say. If you feel like you are talking to a wall and you can’t feel His presence. KEEP asking for help. Every single day. All day. Keep asking. God wants a relationship with you. He wants you to communicate with Him all day long and He wants to help you with this. Pursue Him and don’t give up. Romans 8:26
3. Get to know God better by reading His words. I wrote a post about this that you can read here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/read-through-the-bible
A big part of the problem many
people have with prayer is that
they don’t really know God. You
might know about Him but until
you open His word and read
about His tremendous love for
you, prayer will not become
real to you.
4. Make it a habit to talk to Him all day long. Prayer doesn’t have to be a special time set aside. Prayer is simply talking to God. Talk to Him, cry with Him, sing with Him. Sit in silence and listen to Him. Thank Him. Prayers of thanksgiving can change everything about your prayer life. I encourage you to read my post about that here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/a-prayer-that-can-change-your-life#comments
All of these things are a part of
prayer. His presence is ALWAYS
with you, so why not talk to Him
5. Once you are a child of God, nothing can separate you from His love. Romans 8:39, John 10:28&29. You will always be His child but if you know deep down that you have sin in your life, make sure you ask Him to forgive you and restore your relationship. Psalm 66:18.
Just like in any relationship, if
you have wronged someone,
that relationship can’t move
forward and flourish until you
ask for forgiveness.
Now that we got past some basics, here are a few new things God showed me this week about my own prayer life.
1. Quit viewing it as a job, a duty or a mandate and start viewing it as an expression of love. I don’t know how many sermons I’ve heard on the importance of bible reading and prayer. ~You need to read and pray~ has been ingrained into me since junior high. It seemed as if it was almost portrayed as a command and if that command was not followed, punishment would ensue. As the years went by, I didn’t realize I began to view prayer as a duty to God. A job. Something every Christian is “supposed” to do. Prayer can too easily become mechanical. This is not what God intended at all. Think about the person you love most on this earth. Do you ever think about talking to them as a duty? No, that’s ridiculous. We WANT to talk to them. It comes natural because we love them so much. That is how it should be with God. We should wake up excited to speak to Him. We should want to share everything with Him about our day, we should lay all our burdens and anxieties at His feet. He should be the first person we want to go to when problems arise and when overwhelming happiness floods our souls. All because we love Him and all because He loves us.
2. I’ve heard women say that it’s too hard to talk to someone who is not physically there with with them, yet we talk to ourselves all the time. Think about that. Let it sink in.
Our inner thoughts command
our steps without us even
realizing it. Women have
thousand of thoughts running
through their minds at once. It’s
how we were created. Not all our
thoughts are good. Not all our
thoughts are uplifting. We can
beat ourselves up with negative
thinking. We listen to our
criticizing inner voices and we
believe them. Isaiah 55:8&9,
Jeremiah 17:9. Why is it so easy
to talk to ourselves and to listen
to those inner voices, yet
convince ourselves that we can’t
talk to God or hear from Him?
Whenever my inner thoughts
start getting the best of me, I
have tried to make it a habit to
stop listening to them and bring
all those thoughts to God. 2
Corinthians 10:5. I talk to Him
about everything going through
my mind. It’s so much easier to
give the burdens to Him. I Peter
5:7. Try this practice the next
time your inner thoughts are
gaining a negative control on
your life. Romans 12:2
3. I’ve read a lot of helpful tips on what to do if your mind wanders like mine does. Things like praying out loud, praying in a room with no distractions, kneeling when you pray etc. What has helped me most is to first ask the Holy Spirit for help, and second to remind myself that Jesus is literally right there with me. I can talk to him so much easier when I picture Him there with me. I can laugh and I can allow Him to hold me as I sob tears of heartache or shame. Because He is right there. Once your mind gets a hold of this truth, prayer is life changing.
We are all created different. God knows this. He understands this. Our prayer lives will all look different. There isn’t a magic cookie cutter mold that God expects us to master. God loves you just the way you are and He will love your conversations with Him, because He will know that’s you. He knows everything about you. He knows the deepest thoughts and feelings of our hearts. Nothing is hid from Him, so why not be real and raw when you talk to Him?
Don’t try to pray like someone else.
Let your prayers be the words your heart speaks.
You pray you.
And it will change your life.
This was very hard for me to write. I prayed and read and dug deep into scripture. Then I prayed and prayed some more because no matter what I came up with, I couldn’t even convince myself~ so, how could I convince you?
I don’t need to tell you this but I’m going to anyway~
Comparison is the thief of Joy.
Deep down, you already know that.
Sadly, so do I.
There’s so much I could write on this subject. 54 years of comparison stealing away joy. I’m not necessarily talking about possessions here (that’s another topic for another post). I’m talking about genetic personality traits that we are unhappy with. Our DNA. Ways we wish we were physically different than how God created us.
It all started one night when I was washing my face.
I was slathering wrinkle cream all over my neck and wondering why I waited until my 50’s to start doing this. I wished my mom had warned me, so I picked up my phone and jokingly sent a text to my daughters~
“Mom tip #54- start putting wrinkle cream on your neck right now, not just on your face”
My daughter Kathryn responded ~”thanks mom, but I’d like to know the other 53 tips too 😂😂😂”
I laughed at her response, but it sort of stuck with me. I’m 54. What tips could I leave with my daughters that could help them? Tips that might change their lives?
So, I started thinking about putting together a list of mom advice. 54 tips to help my kids. Add one each year.
But here’s what I kept thinking about~
All the mistakes I made and regrets I had. The very things I didn’t want my own daughters to experience.
One major regret was comparison. Why have I wasted 54 years wishing I could be like someone else? I can remember being this way since grade school. Wishing I wasn’t such a “girly” girl. Wishing I was stronger, more athletic, wishing I was more outgoing, wishing for a different body, hair, face. Thinking I wasn’t cool enough. Wishing I wasn’t so shy. Wishing I was more confident. Wishing I was like someone else.
Wishing I was like her...
So girls, here you go. Here are some things God has shown me this week, tips that have helped me to work on viewing myself through God’s lens instead of my own.
⁃ This will always be my #1 tip in every situation, no matter what~ ASK GOD FOR HELP.
⁃ Get in God’s word. Comparison has been around since the beginning of time. The story unfolds with Satan tempting Eve by comparing her to God, her son comparing himself to his brother, Rachel and Leah, Saul with David, Gideon, Moses and the list goes on. We can learn so much from reading their accounts. Some went through tremendous heartache because of comparison, but many were great men and women of God in the Bible. They felt lacking. They didn’t feel good enough or qualified enough to do the job, yet God always used them in mighty ways. He showed many of them that their comparison issues weren’t an issue at all, because it was never about them. It was, and always will be all about God.
He used them to fulfill the gospel.
This was such a comfort to me.
II Corinthians 10:12, Exodus 4:11
⁃ See myself as God sees me and be thankful. I don’t want to live the remainder of the time I have left comparing myself to other women and putting down God’s creation. God thought about every tiny detail of me and of you, and then He said~this is what I want her to be like. This is how I want her to look and this is the personality I want her to have. She will be mine, she will be marvelous and wonderful. She will be precious to me. Isaiah 64:8, Luke 12:7, Psalm 139:1-16 (read it, it’s true!!)
⁃ Every day write down one thing about yourself that makes you happy. Jot down those scriptures from Psalm 139. Stick them everywhere as a reminder of God’s love for you. Shove them in your purse. The next time you’re standing in line at Target and you see that super friendly, outgoing, beautiful lady in front of you and you start to compare and forget~you can reach for your wallet and pull out that card instead. Then smile, because God reminded you how beautiful you are to Him. I know as Christians we can view this as being prideful~but done in the right spirit, it is a heart of thankfulness to God. At times we can be critical regarding the fine line between pride and thankfulness. You know, the whole Pharisee/Sadducee argument (and let me just add, if you’re talking to others about how humble you are, that’s probably your pride finding it’s voice, but if you’re talking to God about how thankful you are, that’s your heart glorifying God). Everything about you is a gift from God. A gift you should be thankful for. If you think about it, when we dwell on the things we dislike about ourselves we are telling God that He made a mistake because we are viewing our opinions higher than His. We are telling God~I don’t believe what Your word says about me. I don’t believe You. But, if we view the things about ourselves that we are happy with and we thank God for them, we are actually glorifying Him through that thanksgiving. I Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:11
⁃ Realize your mind is your enemy, she is not. She probably has issues deep down inside just like you do. Learn to renew your mind daily by feeding it with Gods word. (Which goes back to tip #2) Romans 12:2. If we don’t love ourselves exactly the way God made us, how can we possibly love others like Christ does? Like we’re supposed to? Resentment, jealousy and comparison will continually steal our joy. Matthew 22:39. Tell the “her” in your life how awesome she is. Tell her how much you appreciate her attributes. Stop that lady in front of you in line and let her know how beautiful she looks today. This is another way you can not only glorify God, but lift up another sister who might be going through a hard time just like you. You will be amazed at how much this will not only bless her, but bless you as well.
Ephesians 2:10, Isaiah 52:7
⁃ Realize social media, television and other people’s opinions are not what defines you. God is Who defines you. When God looks at us He sees His image. He sees the blood of His Son and the redemption it brings. He gives glorious liberty to help us get past that comparison. He sees a precious soul He loves. He knows everything about you. He knows every thought you have and He understands. He knows every word you will speak. He’s aware of every single one of your ways. And He loves you. Not the you that you wish you could be, the you that is reading this right now. Psalm 139:1-4, Genesis 1:27, Ecc 3:11, Psalm 90:17, Romans 8:21, 27, 29
Obviously I’m not talking about things that God has given us the ability to work on and change ie~
“well God made me a liar, so I’m going to perfect it and be thankful for that attribute.” Or “God made me lazy, so I’ll just lay here rejoicing in that.” “God created me to love junk food so I don’t have to listen to my doctor’s warnings about my health.” Etc.
I’m talking about comparison in areas that God intricately designed us to be.
Our ultimate goal~Be holy as God is holy. Not~ be like Sandy or Becky, Amy or Julie.
Just Jesus. Period.
You know what all those comparison wishes are? They’re whispers from Satan. They hit you when you least expect it and can change your entire day. You lose all joy and end up feeling defeated instead of praising God for the person He created you to be. The person you are.
You are a living gospel message.
You are you.
Fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.
Do you know what the word fearfully means in Psalm 139?
It means~ “in a manner to impress admiration”. 🥰
You are you. A child of the most high God. His perfect blueprint.
Marvelous and precious.
Don’t ever forget that, it will change your life.
Last week I shared with you something that really, truly changed my life. Reading through the Bible in 60 days. Yep. The WHOLE bible in only 60 days.
Click here to read that post~
And here is the link to the plan I followed~
I'm reading the @YouVersion plan 'Power Read The Bible In 60 Days With Jeff Anderson'. Check it out here:
I highly recommend it for everyone!
One thing that stood out to me was how often I read the words~
glorify, praise and thanksgiving.
This was something I knew I had read before, but after reading large amounts of scripture every day~ it really stuck with me. It was a continual theme.
I was reading it over and over and over.
And my heart was convicted.
This was something I wasn’t doing enough of. I did plenty of asking but I wasn’t glorifying, praising and thanking God enough. I had made the majority of my prayer life all about petitions instead of taking the time to fall on my knees in thankfulness.
So today I want to share something else that truly changed my life.
Instead of petitioning God, I simply sat and thanked Him.
I was amazed at the many things that came to mind. I probably could’ve sat all day praising and thanking Him~
and it changed me.
After thanking Him over and over for the countless blessings He has bestowed upon me, my heart knew without a shadow of a doubt that He would take care of my usual requests and burdens.
My heart was joyful. It was light. It was free from stress and anxiety. It was free from burdens. I knew He was in complete control and I could let go.
I could simply say thank you with a peace that passed all understanding.
And so, I want to give you some tips that helped me on my new journey of thankfulness and release.
⁃ Find a quiet place that is free from distractions. A place for just you and Jesus. (For me this is my bedroom)
⁃ The first thing I always do is ask the Holy Spirit for help. I ask the Holy Spirit to speak deeply to my soul. To clear my heart and mind of distractions and help me to focus only on Jesus.
⁃ Next, I talk to Jesus as if He is sitting right next to me, because He is! The Bible tells me He will never leave me and I truly believe He is with me every moment of every day.
⁃ I then start thanking God. At first it was hard because I immediately wanted to petition Him on behalf of loved ones, friends and circumstances. So, I continued to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. Even if you find yourself distracted or disconnected, don’t stop. Keep thanking Him.
⁃ I started with things that were right in the room with me, things that we so easily take for granted. My bed, clothing, a closet for those clothes, a warm comforter etc. then my home and all that He provides for me inside that home. By focusing on what’s right in front of you, God will open your eyes to a world of thankfulness.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that as I looked outside. The sunshine, the blue skies and cotton candy clouds. The birds singing. The rooftop of our precious church.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that to my wonderful hometown. My neighbors, our farms and beaches, rivers and lake.
⁃ I then thanked God for my sweet family. My husband, children and grandchildren. My dad and brothers. My in-laws and cousins. My aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.
⁃ Make this a habit you practice at least once a week.
⁃ The more I thanked God, the deeper my soul felt that thankfulness. I found myself weeping as I thanked Him for each thing, but especially for His Son dying for me on the cross. For giving me the gift of eternal life at such a cost. For loving me despite myself.
Some of you might not know where to start when it comes to prayer and others might feel like this is too simple. These are just a few of the tips that helped me. I hope you get the idea. Something completely different might work better for you.
You might be reading this and thinking that it’s easy for me to be thankful because of how many blessings I have, but you find yourself in a dark, lonely place filled with heartache.
Can I tell you my friend that even there you can find the light. You can find your way out of the dark if you give Jesus your hand.
Take it one step at a time.
Thank Him for being there with you. In your quiet place. Just you and Jesus. You are not alone. Thank Him for dying for you. Thank Him that no matter how dark things seem right now, His gift of salvation has given you light and peace for all eternity.
If His redeeming love and forgiveness is something you have never experienced, I urge you to reach out to me. I would love to share the gospel with you. I would love for you to know my Jesus and the thankfulness my heart feels.
There is no doubt that as you go about your day, loved ones and friends, burdens or circumstances will come to the forefront of your heart. Choose to remain thankful each time. Thank God for the burdens He places upon your heart, for the circumstances He placed you in, for that person He gave you to love. Thank Him all day long as you go about each task.
The more you say thank you, the more thankful you become.
Guys, I promise it will change your life!
EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE
2 minute read
When my husband’s sister passed away in 2003, all our lives were torn apart.
She left behind 6 children. Her youngest only 6 days old.
I saw how it affected my husband and my children. I saw how it affected her husband, her children, her parents and siblings, her church family.
I saw how it affected me.
I decided my life would be different. I would give of myself more. I would invest in other’s lives. I would spend more quality time with my children instead of stressing over a clean house, schedules and “to do’s”. I would love on my husband more fiercely, forgive more readily. I wouldn’t get irritated and argue with him over stupid things. I would be selfless and put his needs before my own.
Because I did not know how much time I had left with the ones I loved, and I wanted it to be precious.
Yes everything changed....
for a while.
Slowly, as the years went by and life became more normal again~
I forgot those decisions.
And every once in a while my heart would be pricked, because I wasn’t following through.
I always blew it off.
Surely God understood how busy I was~
I had schedules to keep.
I had a house to keep clean.
I had too much on my plate to help that person.
I had every right to get irritated with my husband.
But deep down, I knew that wasn’t true. We make the time for the ones we love. We forgive, we give of ourselves, we love selflessly. Deep down, I knew~
I just loved myself more.
As we sit in our houses and reflect on this time~As we think about our lives and what will change~As we pray desperately for the safety of our loved ones~As we give God our moments~As we search His promises for peace~As we watch the news and cry and pray~As we realize how very precious our families truly are~As our eyes are opened to what is most important in our lives.
Let’s not ever forget.
One year from now. Two years from now. If and when our lives become our normal again.
We cannot ever forget.
We will make new choices. We will determine to put God first. To spend time with Him. To make the time for our children despite our list of “to-do’s” and love on our spouses more fiercely. We will determine to forgive more readily. We will not allow busyness to take over our family time. We will give of ourselves to others.
Until we don’t.
Until the years go by and we slowly forget this horrible, terrible, life changing virus that has encapsulated our entire world.
Because our lives will be our normal again.
But for some, their lives will forever be changed because this virus took someone that was precious to them.
Mark this day and the next and the next. Write notes in your bible to remember. Take pictures. Cut out newspaper articles. Create memories.
And pray for the future God has for us. Pray that we don’t ever forget. And one day, let us look back on our memories and notes and pictures. Let us relive it and be reminded how good God is to us. How much He has blessed us with.
Then hug on your babies a little tighter. Kiss on your spouse a little longer. Give of yourself to your neighbors a little more and give God every part of every day.
Because we don’t know how much time we have left. Maybe this virus has made us all more aware and because of that,
we can be thankful, because of that~
Everything will change.
I REMEMBER MOM
When I was little, while all the other little girls at school went back and forth over what they wanted to be when they grew up, I always knew what I wanted. I played house. I played with dolls. I played grocery shopping.
I wanted to be a mom. Just like my mom.
I may have been only 4 or 5, but I watched her, and she didn’t even realize. As she cooked and cleaned, as she did the laundry and ironing, as she bought groceries and took care of my baby brother, as she kissed my daddy when he walked through the door~ my little eyes were always watching.
She may have gotten frustrated at times. She may have yelled at me (for which I know I deserved), she may have gotten tired or sad or discouraged. She may have looked at the other moms and their accomplishments and wished she could DO more, not realizing~
She was already doing everything~
because my little heart wanted to grow up and be her.
And at night, no matter what the day held, as she snuggled with me in bed and read me another chapter of my favorite book, it was the best feeling in the world and I never wanted it to end.
Mama (and daddies of little boys) whatever your role, whatever your vocation~ little eyes are watching and wishing to be you. The world might try to convince you that simply being a “mom” is a worthless job. You might wish you could accomplish so much more for your children. There will be days you might wish you could retrace your steps and take back the yelling and frustration or weariness and impatience. Despite what we might see as failures~ you are the best feeling in the world to them~
their little hearts love unconditionally and they want to grow up to be just like us.
Time goes by. Little hearts grow up. Little eyes notice more. Future plans change. Make sure your babies see a future wrapped up in Jesus.
I landed my dream job. I’m a mom. I’m a grandma, and this morning as I got my coffee and the morning sunlight whispered through the windows, I almost cried. God has blessed me so much. A family. A house. Laundry and ironing. Dust on the furniture and cobwebs in the corners. A floor that needs sweeping. A grocery list and a pantry. Grandbabies. A morning cup of coffee.
All the small things God gives us, that this life holds, aren’t really small after all. Things we might overlook, complain about or take for granted. But I remember.
I remember wanting to push the grocery cart. I remember my Easy Bake Oven and play stove and fridge. I remember play shelves with play food. I remember my Fischer Price vacuum. I remember pretending to be mom drinking her coffee, I remember crying baby dolls and bottles and pretend diapers.
I remember mom.
And I wished that she was here to see it so that I could say thank you mom~
for showing me how to be just like you and loving every minute of it.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF BEAUTIFUL.
Tears filled her eyes as she spoke.
Almost 30 of us, all staying under the same roof.
One week together.
She spoke about her children all being together.
She spoke of how much it meant to her that we had continued this tradition all these years.
She first came when my husband was a baby, followed by siblings, then their children and now great grandchildren.
As I looked around the room, tears filled everyone’s eyes, including my own.
What we have is special.
My mother in law recognized it and she was grateful.
This year my children and grandchildren all came down. We want to continue this tradition with my in laws, and this year tears filled my eyes once again.
As my grandson ran to hug me when we finally arrived.
As my granddaughter snuck into my room in the early morning hours to sleep with me.
As I watched my grown children laugh together and love on each other.
As I watched my grandchildren run in the sunshine and sand and dip their tiny toes in the surf.
Our lives had become so busy that even living in the same town, time spent together like this was very rare.
And this year the tears spilled down my own cheeks as I waved goodbye to them all and turned to an empty house without them.
Such a beautiful house on the ocean and yet, in this moment it was only a building. What made that building so beautiful were the people who filled it.
I could picture them all there, in the now empty rooms. The time went by too fast. I realized then that I wouldn’t mind being back in the middle of snow and ice and freezing temperatures, because I would be with the people who made everything beautiful. My family.
Every moment of every day can be beautiful if we realize what God has blessed us with.
Too often we think that if we could just go on that vacation or if we had a bigger house or new furnishings, then we would be happy. We seek our joy in things.
The grass is always greener syndrome.
We miss what is right in front of us, and sadly we don’t realize how beautiful it is until it’s gone.
Think about what truly makes life beautiful. Look for that beauty in the small things. Beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis. A morning sunrise. An open bible. Your daily routine. Your church family. Your hometown and neighbors. A hug. A smile. The sunset and stars. Your cozy bed. Your home and loved ones.
Your whispers to the Savior as you fall asleep.
Sometimes what we overlook as the small stuff is really the big stuff.
The stuff that dreams are made of are too often the very things we take for granted.
My mother in law recognized it.
It wasn’t just this place, it was the people in this place that made it beautiful.
And that place is right where you are at this very moment. Choose to see the beauty in it. Don’t wait until it’s gone before you realize all God has blessed you with. Recognize the joy in every moment of every day right where you are.
You’re standing in the middle of beautiful, you just have to open your eyes and heart to see it.
It’s always been there~
That beautiful stuff that dreams are made of.
BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU
I married a man whose idea of a fun vacation was being in the middle of the woods in a pop up tent. My idea of a vacation was a nice hotel (on the beach, with a heated pool and room service). But hey, I fell hard for that handsome, rugged man so a few years later when he suggested we go camping, I said sure. I was OBVIOUSLY still in the dreamy stage. Jessica was just over a year and I was VERY pregnant with Andrea. We were camping in the middle of no where. This wasn’t a campground with restrooms, it was the woods with trees~ and the restroom was one of them. Trying to pee when you’re 8+ months pregnant, while leaning against a tree, is almost impossible. But I did it~
BECAUSE I LOVED HIM.
When I think about that crazy camping experience and how hard I thought it was, my thoughts go to Mary~the mother of Jesus~who traveled thousands of miles on a donkey and gave birth in a manger.
Because she loved HIM. Her Savior.
And then, my heart takes me to her Savior~MY Savior. He left the immense majesty of heaven and all it’s glory for us~
BECAUSE HE LOVES US.
He was born in a filthy cattle stall in Bethlehem~
BECAUSE HE LOVES US.
He died a horrible death for me, for you, and He wants to be born in your heart~
BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU.
Jimmy Pena put it beautifully. He wrote~ “Isn’t that what we want? For our hearts to be His Bethlehem? Born in us? When you and I walk into work or school or the gym... when we make dinner for the kids or visit a neighbor, we hold Him. We’re His Home on earth.”
What better time than the week before Easter to be reminded of Christmas? So, my reminder to you for March is this~ Jesus our Savior, born for us. Don’t let a day go by this week, or this year, that you neglect to thank and praise Him for His amazing gift and for His home in your heart.
BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU~
that beautiful, powerful name is the priceless, precious gift of Christmas that we should be thankful for every day of the year.
~~You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down.~~
I’ve always been a Christmas fanatic. My parents made Christmas completely magical for us as kids. I could not wait for the big Sears or JCPenny catalog to come in the mail. My brothers and I would pour over that book every spare second we had until it’s pages were worn and crinkled and it’s cover was missing. I would make my wish list, writing and rewriting like it was a novel going to the publisher. And then I would anticipate Christmas morning and dream of the toys placed playfully under the tree. Apparently the excitement was contagious, my parents seemed to catch it every year as well. Knowing smiles on their faces, Christmas records playing and Christmas cookies baking. What I thought was exciting when I was a child did not compare to the excitement I had after having children. Christmas giving took on a whole new meaning and I finally understood the smiles my parents had. It was because of the love that filled their hearts for their children. It was because they were able to give us things we asked for and even though they received nothing in return, it meant everything to them to see us so happy on Christmas morning. There is nothing that compares to that feeling~ being able to give to your children. My outlook changed. I wasn’t that child dreaming of all I would get. It wasn’t all about me anymore and my heart realized with great thankfulness how special my parents made Christmas for me when I was a child.
Sometimes we can be like children when it comes to our Heavenly Father. Our prayer lives consist of continually asking for things....”Please help me with this, please help me with that” or “please answer my prayers”. We don’t ever take the time to just thank Him for all He has given us, it’s all about what we can get. We pour over His word only because we are looking for something to make us feel better, to make our lives easier and not out of love for Him. And God our Father blesses our unthankful hearts over and over again. He continually receives nothing in return yet expects nothing in return. Because He loves us so very much. Because He wants us to be happy. Perhaps this year as we look ahead to Christmas, a lesson can be learned in our childish hearts. To stop and thank Him regularly for His continued goodness on our lives. To love Him so much that we want to give Him our everything in return. To have a countenance that’s contagious this Christmas, a knowing smile due to a thankful heart. And then a desire to give to others, as He has given to us.
I Chronicles 16:34 Proverbs 15:13a
Christmas was my mom’s favorite time of year. I think she started talking about it and planning it on January 1. The presents she would purchase, the dozens of different cookies she would bake, the meal menu and house decor. The family get togethers. It meant the world to her and when we lost her a little over a month before Christmas, I felt like I lost the world. So from Thanksgiving until Christmas, in my feeble strength, I attempted to push the sad thoughts as far as I could to the back of my mind and focus on everything and anything to take my mind off of the pain. I would become mom for everyone in my family, my brothers and especially my dad. With everything I did, my thoughts turned to mom and how she would do it. I baked endless amounts of various Christmas cookies, breads and candies. I wrapped each present perfectly. Every room was decorated. I was determined this would be an amazing Christmas for everyone. But it wasn’t. Anyone peeking into our windows that Christmas might have thought that everything appeared to be amazing, but our hearts were hurting. When I opened the gift my dad presented to me, my heart broke even more. It was a charm necklace my mom had purchased and engraved months before and it said~”All our love Mama and Daddy 2003”. I held on to that necklace like I was holding on to mom. She had picked it out and with all her love she had held it and thought of me. I choked back the tears for fear I would make everyone sad. I smiled and put it on, but inside my heart was weeping and that night after everyone was gone and my kids were in bed, I turned off the lights and with only the light of the Christmas tree, I broke down. I didn’t just cry, I sobbed~heart wrenching, take your breath away sobs from the pit of my being.
It can be so easy for someone to sit and write a blog about dealing with the stress of the holidays along with teething babies and diapers and terrible two’s or how to be thankful amidst the constant activities in our already busy lives and how this Thanksgiving we should focus on being grateful, but those things are all a part of life. If we can’t be thankful for the small things, God help us. So what about those that are going through the heart wrenching moments~ finding out a husband had an affair, the doctor informing you that you have cancer or worse~that your child has cancer, the death of a child, a sibling, a parent, a loved one. Losing your spouse and soul mate after 50 years together? How do those people find thankfulness amidst the heart ache? God has brought some amazing women into my life. Women that have suffered not just one of the things I mentioned, but all of them, and yet they shine the love of Jesus so brightly that you can’t help but smile when you are around them. How can they be this way despite everything they have been through? I truly believe they made a conscious choice to have a thankful heart from the very beginning. A gratefulness to God for everything, even the small stuff like diapers and terrible two’s. They looked for God’s goodness on their lives in every situation. They longed for God and saw that goodness and knew how very much He loved them and they held on to that hope and love when true heartache hit home.
That Christmas, when I felt like utter darkness was surrounding me, I chose to cry out to God, the only One who truly understood my pain. He did something amazing in that moment. He showed me His Son, only a baby lying in my Christmas manger under the beautiful glow of the tree. The hope for an entire lost world, my lost world, and I thanked Him. I clung to Him that year, my hope and strength and life and love. My everything. And I thanked Him for His gift to me of salvation. Because of that baby, His only Son, I would see my mom again in Heaven one day. God gave me a thankful heart and it was my Christmas miracle.
It isn’t easy to be thankful in the heart wrenching moments, especially if we are trying in our own feeble strength, focusing on anything and everything to take away the pain, except the Only One Who can. As we head toward the end of another year, this Thanksgiving focus on the ultimate gift. Our Savior, who was born in a manger and gave His life for us. You may not be going through anything painful this season, but perhaps you are allowing the small stuff to overwhelm your soul and take away your thankfulness. Instead~ Open your eyes to those around you. Look past what you think is such a hard situation and see the hurting hearts of others. Pray for them and daily choose to practice thankful and grateful hearts in the small stuff God has blessed you with. Allow it to be a learned behavior but most importantly focus daily on thanking Him for the gift of His Son and when you feel like the darkness is all around you, the glow of that gratefulness will shine through from deep within your heart and you will be able to say “thank you”. ❤️
“Why can’t I be normal?” We were on our way to another Doctor. Another specialist. Something wrong with me AGAIN. Tears filled my eyes. “And it’s always something strange with me, something that the doctor can’t figure out”. I was pouring my heart out to Mike. I felt like a constant disappointment not only to him but also to my children and church family. And every time something was wrong, it resulted in me being flat on my back. No use to anyone. I wanted to hide. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away. I was sure all the ladies at church thought I was a terrible pastor’s wife and my own children thought I was a huge disappointment as a mother.
Here’s the thing. Of all the posts that I’ve written, of all the stories I’ve shared of deliverance by God, of answered prayer, of trust in the Savior, at that moment I felt lost and completely alone again. In one tiny moment, just like that, it was all forgotten as I sat crying in pain. I am not some picture of Godliness, I have not arrived. I am human. I am weak. Ladies, that’s exactly where Satan wants us. He gets us to the point where we are so weak and so desperate that we begin to entertain thoughts that aren’t even true. We forget about every miraculous story of God’s deliverance and sit in our own pitiful pain and despair. We feel sorry for ourselves, and depending on the circumstance, maybe we have every right to, but we have absolutely no right to dismiss God and all He has done for us. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we do when we allow ourselves to get to this point. God can do unexplained miracles in our life but all it takes is one Doctor uttering the words “way out of her league” or “abnormal” to scare us into thinking we are alone and forgotten. I guess that’s why the story of Moses and the Israelites has always intrigued me. How easy is it to read about the burning bush, the plagues, the Red Sea and judge the Israelites for their childish murmurings. How easy it is to say “how could they forget God’s miracles so quickly?” I guess one of the reasons we can be so quick to judge is because we can go back a few chapters and reread the miraculous story of God’s deliverance over and over and over. It’s a story that never gets old. My friend, your story will never get old. You just have to go back a few chapters and reread it. We have to push aside our childish murmurings and we have to mentally remind ourselves that He is OUR God of miracles and He has been, and always will be there for us. Take a moment today and write down one thing from your past that God helped you get through. Shut everything else out and focus on that. And then thank Him over and over throughout your day. Tomorrow, add another to your list and then the next day and the next and the next until one year from today you are adding the 365th way God has blessed your life. Your perspective will be completely changed. We can’t allow Satan to squirm his way in, because he will use any means necessary to take us away from our closeness with God. Focusing on ourselves is one of his best weapons.
God made me laugh at myself even today as I typed the words at the beginning of this post~”I was pouring my heart out to Mike”. When I went back to read what I had written I laughed out loud. Auto correct changed “pouring” to “pouting”. “I WAS POUTING.” I’m sure that was all God. Funny how He uses things to get our attention. Switch your focus today and place it on the Savior and all the crazy, unexplainable, miraculous, beautiful ways He has blessed your life. Grab a pen, because today is only the beginning of your story, a story that you will want to read over and over again. A story that will never get old.
Exodus 19:4 Ephesians 3:20 Proverbs 3:5-6
Okay this is going to sound crazy but, Walmart gives me a crazy sense of joy. Not the spending money part, just the being there part. My husband... not so much. He could do without that weekly bill I rack up every Monday.
Mondays have always been shopping day for us since we first moved to Caseville 23 years ago. Every time I walk through the doors and grab that shopping cart, the memories rush over me and I think of the thousands of times I have walked through those very doors and the different seasons of my life I was in. Walking through the doors with 4 children under the age of 7. Taking my youngest straight to the hospital from Walmart when she fell running around a rack of clothes with her brother, only to find she had a broken collar bone. Shopping with my kids after they got spending money and losing my patience because my son could not make up his mind on a toy after over an hour, sometimes longer. (He's still the same way today). Listening to them all chatter and laugh through the aisles as I tried to keep them close and demanded they had one hand on the cart at all times while in the parking lot. I remember watching my girls pretend to shop like mama. I remember thoughts about what it would be like to actually shop with them when they were grown and married. To talk to them as we shopped, to pick out makeup together or share recipes. Thoughts of the fun times we would have during the holidays, looking at the decorations or checking off our lists for Christmas baking and present shopping. For them to someday become my best friends.
And now, my little babies (and their spouses) are all my best friends. I don't have to wonder anymore. My girls shop with me quite regularly. At times it can be crazy if they are all with me, sometimes packing all my girls (Jessica, Andrea, Kathryn and Shannon) and our groceries~and even the babies~ into one vehicle. There have been trips where babies cried the entire time or pooped through outfits. Times when my daughter and I were in the bathroom holding their onesie under the hand dryer after washing the poop out, (to the horrified looks of some elderly ladies) or the time one of the babies peed through her diaper and someone actually told me my granddaughter was leaking from the cart 😂😂 (Thank God Walmart sells clothes!) but I wouldn't trade it for the world. This is my awesome life and I will forever be thankful to God for the chaos and crying and poopy onesies and the piles of groceries jammed between my daughters and car seats and their dad's tools in the back~the serious talks and the silly ones where we laughed so hard we cried~ and the love that fills that vehicle~ all on our way to and from Walmart.
Cherish every single moment of your life. Make it a memory that means something. Always be thankful to God for the piles of blessings our lives our jammed with. Blessings that we can sometimes miss if we only focus on the negative. See the good in every situation. Yes, we can have a heart of joy if our hearts choose to look for it in everything, even as we walk through the doors of Walmart.
I was a baby when I got married. Barely 20. I had four kids by the time I was 28 and often found myself overwhelmed at the responsibilities. My husband worked away from home all week and returned on the weekend to all the endless needs of a growing church. I can remember one Saturday specifically. All of my kids were sick and I was exhausted. I couldn't wait for Mike to come home for lunch, just so I could shower. Michael's fever had been high that morning and as I came out of the kitchen, I noticed him laying in the hallway. I bent to check his fever but he was unresponsive. I cried out to him, but there was nothing. Mike tried as well, then quickly scooped him up and rushed him to the hospital. I stayed behind with my girls, crying and praying. There were no cell phones to keep me updated. There was only horrifying silence and waiting. My precious little son. How quickly our lives can change. The things we take for granted. The things we might occasionally complain about should be the very things that should be most precious to us. Our husband's, our children, our homes with the endless chores, our friends, our country. My son's birthday is coming up this week. He will be 26. God allowed me to have him a little longer than I might have thought that day. He had a febrile seizure and lost his hearing in one ear. When I was able to hold his tiny little body again in that hospital room, I did not think of how overwhelmed I was or how I needed a shower or "me time", I only thought of my sweet boy and thanked God. Take a moment to think today that every single thing we have is a gift from God. Don't take one thing for granted, but thank Him daily for all He has given you. As hard as it might seem, when our circumstances seem overwhelming and we wonder when things will get better, think on this my friend~ Things will get better when we choose to seek out the good and we become THANKFUL.