That Little Hand

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I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.

Whistling Sinks?

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It looms. It lurks. It seems ever-present. Stress and anxiety…that icky, nasty feeling that something in your life isn’t right. Why? Because it isn’t. Revolutionary, I know! There’s not enough time. There’s too much to do. There’s always dishes, work, cleaning, laundry, kids, lawns, and so it goes. You feel it in your shoulders if you pay enough attention. They’re tense, but you don’t notice because they’ve been that way for so long. You push through. Just keep going. We think: What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just get this stuff done? Where does all the time go? I’ll never get organized. Sigh. Jesus will come back before I get this desk cleaned off. Why is that sink whistling every time I turn it on? Why is my printer making that funny humming sound? Why, oh why, do my kids talk every minute of their waking hours?? I don’t have time for all this!!

Can we take a minute, literally, let’s just take ONE minute (did you just spin to look at the clock to see if you had the time? Yeah, you need this.) Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8. When you breathe in, poke your belly out (no one’s watching. And if they are, they probably have a bigger belly anyway) then pull it toward your spine when you breathe out. Ready? Of course you are, you were born that way, right?

On the inhale: Be still and know.

And on the exhale: that He’s God now and forever.

Take this full minute to fill your mind with thoughts of Him and only Him. The One Who created the skies and the clouds in it, the snowflakes and the sunshine, children and the elderly, everything good, great, and wonderful is from Him and He knows how to make it all work out. There is nothing we can’t handle because there’s nothing He can’t handle. He is us and we are Him. Be still, breathe, and know that He still sits on that throne, in full control.

Now, don’t cha feel better? Now let’s get back to folding the laundry…eh, it can wait til tomorrow.

He Flipped Me Off!

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After getting flipped off by a man at the gas station this morning, he was continuing out of the lot and I thought he was pulling up to the pump, so I drove in front of him. The look in his eye I wanted no part of. Obviously I had not wanted to upset him, but he didn’t know that. You see this came after that same look was in my eyes not even an hour prior. If molten lava could have spewed out from my eye sockets, it would have. Getting my children ready for school and out the door is seriously one of the most frustrating aspects of my life right now. The recording that plays in my head is repeating over and over “I can’t do this. God, I need your help! I can’t do this. This is ridiculous! Why can’t I be more organized? What in the world are you guys doing? I TOLD you to get your shoes on!!! I hate this!”

The look that the man gave me was hurtful. All I could think was: I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to cut in front of you. I just simply thought you were stopping at the gas pump. Then, in that way that only my God can, I heard: “Mom, I didn’t mean to. I can’t go as fast as you want me to because I’m just learning.”

Lord forgive us when we try to rush things that cannot be rushed. And when we get so mad we’re caught screaming in the school parking lot (Or was that just me?) I laugh thinking about it now but it surely was not funny at the time. My daughter is a dawdler and there’s no question as to where she gets it. She had to belt in her rainbow bear and tried to sneak her walking, talking doll into her backpack. (I used to have to line up my stuffed animals in bed, gently tucking them in for the day before leaving.) It’s truly as if I’m screaming at myself. Lord help me to be who you want me to be. Help me to show love so that others can see you in me, not the crazy person who’s losing it. There are so many people who are losing it these days. Father transform us so that we don’t look like this world anymore. And change us to where we crave exactly that. Help us to change the MP3 in our heads (or cassette or 8-track or record, depending on your generation) to thoughts that You would have us to think. We look to You for guidance and we won’t take anything less than what You have for us.

And I pray salvation for that man who flipped me the bird. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Elated Jubilation

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Exult: “show or feel elation or jubilation, especially as the result of a success.”
Is this you? Is this me? It’s not at 6:30am, I can divulge that much to you. I used to work in a factory. And when I think about “exulting” I think of him. He was a man who was different. He was different because when he came in, not only did he bring a smile to everyone’s face, but people were drawn to him. It was amazing to experience. I would watch as workers just wanted to be near him because he laughed, he sang, he danced, he even jumped up and down. He was a light in a dark place. He showed joy as he stocked the vending machine. Did you imagine him having a “more sophisticated” job? He was the one who stocked the candy bars and chips. I don’t know if this was his ultimate goal or not, but he let his light shine where he was. He wasn’t waiting for the day when he “made it” to get excited about life.He was amazingly exultant right where he was and he changed lives because of it. I looked forward to seeing him because he always had something good to say.
As I get older, I realize it’s more difficult to hold on to and talk about the good stuff. The “bad doesn’t outweigh the good”, as my wise father would say, but it’s so much easier to gripe, isn’t it? We are so blessed and yet most days if not all, it’s a struggle to make the gratitude flow. *Instantly I’m reminded of yesterday when the “blessed truck” (read “bless-ed” as per Methodist church circa 1988-this is better than referring to it as a mule-ish barnyard animal) pulled out in front of me. It wasn’t thankfulness that I was safe flowing out of my mouth at that point. Keep in mind I’m waaaaaaaaaay better than I used to be (see above: I worked in a factory. My mouth was an issue Jesus Himself had to tweak.)
My point is that it is work to think on and speak the positive. We are supposed to be that light. There are quite a few I would imagine that would shout and honk and yell not-so-creative names out the window at the blessed truck, but we are not them. We are jubilant! We are holy and righteous and good! We have to adjust our mindsets daily at the very least. I’m recognizing mine needs adjusted a wee bit more than that. Maybe hourly. Kids have a tendency to stomp out my good mood like a finished cigarette. Elation is work, but it’s worth it. We are unbelievably blessed. So plaster on a smile and fake it til ya make it if you have to, but God says to rejoice in his name all day long and exult in His righteousness. (Psalm 89:16) It’s only through Him that we can see the awesome.

Tasks Worth Doing

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Anyone else get tired of those stupid to-do lists? Mine were everywhere. I’d have scraps of paper, notebooks upon notebooks, grocery lists, superstore lists, get-done-today- lists, didn’t-get-done- yesterday-lists, weekly lists…I had lists of lists! It almost got to a point where I needed to make lists of my lists to keep track of them all. *Note: I did not do that. I was not only stressed because I had so much to do, but also because I couldn’t figure out what to do first, then I couldn’t figure out where that stupid list went! I literally spent the time I could have been doing the task, looking for the list. Why? Because I love to cross things off. Just saying it brings a smile to my scary morning face. There is something about it: a visual reminder of just how productive you are. Your task is complete! TA-DA! Until…
I realized I was never finished with my tasks. My list was ever-changing and continuous. Once I got 5 things done, I’d add more. Then more, until I was so discouraged I couldn’t see straight. Where oh where was my stopping point? Where was the ribbon at the finish line if there was no finish line?? Wait, am I even running the right race?
So, I changed it up. I read this verse, Acts 20:24 (NIV) says:
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace”that simply lets us know:
1. It’s not about me. (Much to Hollywood’s dismay.)
2. We just have to finish the race.
3. We just have to testify to how good our God is.
I give God the very first moments of my day. (Ok, maybe it’s shared just a little with Folgers) and remind myself of all that He’s done and the only thing I absolutely have to do today are things that show how amazing our Creator is. In everything we do, we can testify to God’s grace…whether it’s washing those dishes (yes, the ones with the gunk still on ‘em from 3 nights ago) or going to work. Don’t let the enemy of your soul stress you out. Life is good! Life is simple! You don’t have to do more. You can literally do less and let God do the changing of the lives!

It’s not about how much we get done or even the tasks themselves, although my kids’ room is a beast of its own, but more about why and for Whom we do them. Our attitude toward the tasks is important because we do more than simply check them off, we do everything for the One Who made us. It’s all about Him, not us. So quit chasing that to-do list around the house and breathe…you are doing enough. You are enough. Testify to God’s grace through what you do, no matter what it may be, and you’re running the right race.

Anxiety-Ridden Self

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I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about anxiety. Or rather, a lot of people speaking with anxiety in their voices. They don’t even know it’s there a lot of times. There’s a certain underlying worry that goes along with humanity at times and I think we just accept it unknowingly if we’re not aware. To be human does not equal to be a big, anxious “hot mess.” I am a huge fan of words, more so positive words, and if you say this phrase around me, I can’t guarantee you won’t see my eyes roll back in my head. If your self-talk (you know the voice in your head all day) keeps claiming you’re a “hot mess” and how stupid you are or act, that’s what you’re going to believe. Many times, we don’t even know we believe the way we do about ourselves and I’m here to tell you today (I just changed my self-talk voice to “Guy on Informercial”-mode) YOU are in charge of that inner voice. You get to change your anxiety level. You. You get to decide.
Just like if you play the recording of the negative stuff over and over, if you say the good stuff, “I am the head and not the tail” “God takes care of me” “I will not fail” and a personal favorite: “I was born for this!” it changes your mindset. This will change your anxiety level. Don’t let yourself of all people keep you from what you want. Isn’t that silly? We are the ones who can stress us out the most, aren’t we? My mom used to say “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” That includes TO yourself. And let’s be honest, if you’re not nice to yourself and you have to spend all day with you, that’s a pretty big beat down. Every single day. So talk yourself up. Be kind to the one God created. He didn’t do it by accident. You have a purpose and a plan and nothing can stand in the way of that…unless you allow it.

Crap Trap

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Isaiah 43:1-3 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you; when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, you Savior. Did you catch what I did this morning? It says “when” not “if.” I have been stuck in the “why is this happening? Am I doing something wrong?”-trap for longer than I care to admit to anyone other than my mommy. The fact is, it’s all part of God’s amazing plan. Each and every single problem we have, whether it’s because a broken washer or a lost earring or something way bigger, there’s a reason for it.
I have also spent a lot of time in the, “Ok, God, what’s the reason for this?”-trap. It is very time-consuming and stressful to try to be God and to think like Him. His thoughts are above ours, meaning we simply need to be simple. Child-like, even. Let’s try it. “Why, oh why, am I going through all this crap? I know I’m meant for more. Why would I possibly be hurting like this?” Now, your line is: “I don’t know. God does though.” (This may take some practice. I’m scheduling another appointment with myself as I type.) I don’t know. I don’t have to know. It is not who I am to have to know. We can rest easy knowing that God knows. He doesn’t have to tell us. Nope. I just said it: He doesn’t have to tell us.
So all the crap that you go through, the big stuff, the little stuff, the oh-my-goodness-WHY??-stuff, is all for a reason. Nothing is wasted. God uses it. Do we have to know why? (this is a practice run.) NO! Free your mind for other fun things and breathe through it. God’s doing the unbelievable through us if we just let Him.