Posted in Faith

When I Fall Down

 

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I have my plans, I run ahead.
My day filled with important things.

No time to lose, no time for You.
No time at all, or so it seems.

I run too fast, I can’t slow down.
I never hear You when you call.

Run faster still, I lose my step.
You long to catch me as I fall.

And then I fall

I fall down. I look around.
Will you come and rescue me?

When I fall down, I look around –
But Your face I cannot see.

Lord, won’t You come and rescue me?

When I fall down…

I look above – And there You are.
A face of love.  Oh, a gentle heart.

I lift my arms. You pick me up.
You hold me tight.  How I feel Your love.

And now I know…

You saw me run. You stayed close by.
You love me still.  Oh, how loved am I!

I’ll look around and there You’ll be,
Always watching out for me.

Now I know you’re there for me.

Lord, your love has rescued me.

When I fall down…

 

Posted in Family

When Feelings Lie

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I always “feel” something.  Sometimes I’m able to manage my feelings fairly well.  Other times the best I can do is muddle through. Maybe you can relate.

Being sensitive is not a problem when all is happy and content. But what about those times when my feelings are less than desirable? When I’m filled with sadness, frustration, or loneliness.  When inadequacy and fear and uncertainty weigh heavily on my heart. When selfishness surfaces as it most certainly will.  Oh, and I mustn’t forget guilt.  Guilt loves to join the party.  After all, how is it possible to feel so lousy when I’ve been blessed so greatly? It makes no sense. And yet the struggle is real – for me and also for many others.

With that in mind, may I share with you a little something I’ve learned about my feelings?

They can’t always be trusted.

As good as they may seem, as bad as they may get, they may or may not be fully accurate.  And if my feelings do not represent truth, I must not let them disguise themselves as such. Otherwise, I am handing over control of my life, my relationships, and all that matters — to a false reality, to a faulty thinking.

So regardless of how I’m feeling, I must ensure my feelings can be trusted before I surrender to their power. Before I declare them reliable. Before I allow them to determine my next step.

May I share an example?  Let’s say a dear friend fails to return my call and doesn’t sit with me at the weekly ballgame.  My feelings are a bit shaken.  Is she upset with me? Is she angry?  Am I no longer her friend?  Sometimes I may need to lovingly discuss these matters with her, but often times it would do me well to check my emotions first.

If I continue in this mindset of having been rejected, I will no doubt work myself into a tizzy.  Before drawing conclusions, I would be wise to look at more than this occurrence. I must search out the truth by studying the overall picture.

     We’ve been friends a long time.
     I know she cares about me.
    All was fine when I spoke to her a few days ago. 
    I haven’t said or done anything offensive to her.
    I know she has been under added stress this week. 

With this truth before me, I have a choice to make. Will I honestly compare my feelings with these facts? And if I do, will I allow myself to be ruled by my misguided emotions, or will I cling to the truth and enjoy peace knowing all is well? I think I’ll choose the latter.

And perhaps next time I will not be so hasty in assuming the worst when my friend, or my husband, or my children disappoint me.  Perhaps I will instead lift them up in prayer, encourage them, hug them, or show them an unexpected kindness.  I believe that’s something that would leave us all feeling good.

 

Posted in Faith, Family

Christmas: A Way of Life

 

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December 25th, Christmas.  A day when families and friends gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus, God in the flesh, who came here as a tiny baby to change the whole world. To change our own personal space. To change our lives, now and forever.

A day to give extra hugs, extra grace.  A day to give special gifts to special people.  A day to eat all those lovely things we can’t eat very often.  To smile, to laugh. To pose for picture after picture.  To share memories, to make more.  To show love; to feel loved.  To be thankful for those who surround us.

And, of course, a day to remember those who are not here with us, those whose absence is deeply felt.  A day to search out joy in the midst of whatever sadness may be lingering in our hearts. To grab onto hope that those strained relationships will one day be restored, and that we will one day be reunited with those who have gone on before us.

A day to pray for those who are unable to spend Christmas with their families because of a commitment to serve others.  Whether they are in the medical field, police officers, military personnel, firemen, or utility workers, this is an opportunity to express our thanks for all they do.

So in my own little speck of the world, I will enjoy my precious family. I will pray for them.  I will wait expectantly to share life with each of them.  To enjoy the spirit of Christmas, whether it be on this day, or another.  To cherish these dear people God has placed in my life.

And friends, as we journey through this upcoming year, may each of us strive to follow the example set by Jesus:  to be willing to do whatever is necessary for the sake of love.

May we make it a point to show God’s love, to live it out in our daily lives. To carry the sacrificial love of Jesus with us wherever we go, to whomever we meet.  To make Christmas not just a day we anticipate once a year, but a way of life that leaves love trailing behind us everywhere we go.

 

Posted in Faith, Family

Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child

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My family and I attended a community Christmas program recently. My husband dropped the younger children and me off at the door while he searched for a parking space. I was on a mission to locate some good seats in the balcony area.

As we entered the church, I noticed many others rushing by presumably on the same mission. We exchanged quick smiles and made our way through the crowd.

Suddenly, my four year old son stopped in his tracks, drawing my attention to the near-life size nativity scene that so many were passing by with little notice.

His delight was evident as he exclaimed, “Baby Jesus is tiny”! Before I could respond, he knelt down before the manger and sat perfectly still, taking it all in. I thought about snapping a picture, but I could not remove my eyes from his small body posed reverently near the Baby Jesus. Wow! To see through the eyes of a child.

I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all, and I was ashamed that I had almost missed it. And although we halted there for a long minute, I regret that we did not stretch out our stay. I would love to go back to that moment and linger a bit longer.

Because nativity scenes are so common this time of year, I had almost failed to truly see it. I was content to simply steal a glimpse as I rushed past, even though my desire to connect with Jesus that night was authentic.

This is why we were in that place, at that time. To hear beautiful songs such as Silent Night and Away in a Manger. To experience oneness with others who believe as we believe, that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas. To come away more in tune with the true meaning of this season, to feel a closer bond with those around us, and to become more aware of the significance of what Jesus did for us.

As wonderful as the program was that night, I would have missed the beauty of the manger had it not been for God using a precious little boy to slow me down enough to behold its value. How I thank God for sharing this treasure with me, and for using my own sweet boy to do so.

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you will settle into your comfy place, relax with those you love, and bask in the magnificence of it all as if you were a wide-eyed child grasping the loveliness of Christmas for the very first time.

 

Posted in Marriage

My Beloved

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You who are greatly loved.
And most dear to my heart.
It’s you I have loved from the very start.

Young though we were …
Our love was most true.
For a long time now, it’s been me and you.

You give meaning to my days.
Security to my nights.
You inspire me to not give up, to stand firm, to sit tight.

To cling to what’s good.
To let go of what’s not.
To press on through tears when it’s blessings I’ve sought.

You encourage. You support.
You gently lead the way.
Through difficulties, through hardship. I know your love remains.

And so, here we are –
Day in and day out.
Committed to one another: what marriage is about.

Good habits and bad.
Laughter and fear.
Growing and stretching: keeping God’s word near.

Loving you, my beloved.
And you loving me.
Spending life with you; no other place I’d rather be.

Posted in Depression

When Sadness Tries To Stick Around

Is sadness trying to steal the best of you today?  If so, join me in taking our thoughts captive, starting with Philippians 4:8.

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Let’s keep this verse within our view today and see if we can’t use it to boss our feelings around.

Oh, and let’s not forget to grab a few friends and pray for one another along the way.  When friends understand and are willing to lift each other up in prayer, we are sure to find victory.

So friends, will you hop on board with me? Please pray for me, and I will pray for you.  Together, let us think on these good things and watch in amazement as our joy returns.

Posted in Faith, Family

That, My Friend, Is Love

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On a nice summer day, the breath was knocked out of me. Not literally, but I felt it just the same. I expected my day to be fabulous. I would see my first grandbaby by ultrasound, if the little fellow chose to cooperate.

We were excited to catch a glimpse of that sweet baby boy. We were not expecting anything unusual. However, this life is often unpredictable and our plan, as wonderful as it seems, is not always a reality.

So there we were, on a beautiful day, facing the ugly truth that all was not well with our precious little one. The diagnosis was Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Basically, the left side of his tiny heart did not form properly, requiring at least three open heart surgeries and possibly a transplant.

As we sat listening to the prognosis, I couldn’t help but think that even though we were taken by surprise and devastated by this news, our God was not. He knew what awaited us that day, and He was prepared to handle it.

So in our brokenness, we knew where to turn. To the One who holds us in His hands. To the One who hears our cries. To the One who answers our prayers. He who makes no mistakes, who works all things together for good. Yes, to Him we would turn for He alone was capable, unshakeable, and in complete control. In Him was where our hope must lie.

As we were preparing for baby Elijah’s arrival, God led his mommy to the anchor symbol. From there, she found the verses in Hebrew 6 which declare that those who have taken refuge in God should take hold of the hope set before us. And that this hope we have is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us straight into God’s inner sanctuary. Straight into His loving arms.

A few days later, I sat in church with a heavy heart. A friend took the stage and begin to sing a song I had never heard, Anchor by Hillsong. The first lines of that song stated, “I have this hope as an anchor for my soul. Through every storm I will hold to you. With endless love all my fear is swept away. In everything I will trust in You.”

As my tears began to flow, I could sense God whispering to me. I was reminded once again that God was with us, that His love for us is great.  I was certain our precious baby Elijah was loved by God even more than we could possibly imagine.

What a blessing to have the God of the universe care about me and those who are so very special to me. He has so much to do, so many to look after, yet my pain, my worries, and my concerns do not go unnoticed.

That, my friend, is love. And the beauty of it is this: I did nothing to deserve His love.  Neither did you. But His love is there for us just the same.

Although the difficulties in this life may dishearten you and leave you longing for more, you will find satisfaction in the love, peace, and comfort available in Him. Please don’t miss it. Search for it in the midst of your hard places. You will not be disappointed.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Psalm 8: 3-4

 

Posted in Grief

When Grief Takes You By Surprise

 

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Have you ever had one of those days where all seems well and, without warning, you run straight into a wall of grief?  I’ve been there.  I’ve done that. And it never ceases to surprise me.

I’m amazed at how the smallest thing can trigger such a big wave of grief.   You may notice someone who resembles that person you’re missing.  Or maybe you hear that certain song on the radio, or you spy that particular hat he would have loved.  It could be stumbling upon that familiar place, only to realize it’s not the same without your loved one there with you.

Or perhaps it’s that dreaded date on the calendar. The one that marks another passing month, one more year gone by, or some other significant event without his presence.  You see the date approaching but try as you might, you can’t pause time or skip over it.  You must face it, whether you’re ready or not.

That’s how it is for me today.  It’s been three years since my brother passed away.  His death was unexpected.  Had I known it was coming, I would have said so much more.  I would have asked for one more hug, and I would have cherished it. I would have stayed by his side until the very end. But I didn’t know, so I failed to do some things I now wish I had done.  Sometimes it still bothers me.

I hate that we didn’t share a last goodbye, but I am comforted in knowing I will see him again.  Yes, when my life here is complete, he’ll be waiting for me inside heaven’s gate, grinning from ear to ear. That’s good to know, especially on days like today.

So when grief suddenly grabs hold of me, I will allow myself to feel its presence.  I will use it to unlock my deepest thoughts of that special person.  I will smile, and possibly even laugh, at the memories that flood my mind. No doubt I will shed a few tears as well. And I will most certainly mention him in a conversation or two because it’s important to me that his memory be kept alive.

When I am ready, I will carefully shake myself off and continue living this life to its fullest without him, knowing the best is yet to come… knowing that one day those last goodbyes will not matter because we’ll be saying hello over and over again for eternity.

That, my friend, is what pulls me through on the hardest of grief-filled days, and it’s what keeps me living even when grief takes me by surprise.

Posted in Motherhood

Glad to be Mom

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“Mom, I’m so glad God made you my mom”.   Wow! Such sweet words spoken by my precious four year old son last night.  Yes, I’m well aware that he’s only four and that right now he’s pretty crazy about me.  And that one of these days he will probably not speak so freely to his mother.  But for now, he speaks these words proudly. And he means every word.  And for that, I am thankful.

I can’t help but wonder what it is that makes him so glad I’m his mom.  I wish I could truthfully say it’s because I’m such an awesome mom, that I rarely make mistakes, and that I never allow the mundane duties of my day to interfere with special times of book-reading, puzzle-working, and snuggling with him.  But the truth is, I’m not a perfect mom.

Yes, I long to be a great mother and, hopefully, I make the cut most of the time.  But there are moments -and there are days- when I fall very short and I fear this blunder or that will be the one my children never forget.  But oh, how I pray that it won’t be.

Like most moms, I am quick to recall the bad choices I’ve made during my mothering journey, but it takes a tad more effort to remember as many good things.  Why is that?  Why do we find ourselves replaying every tiny slip up while seldom noticing the beautiful successes along the way?

We desire only the best for our children so naturally, we aspire to be near-perfect, champions of a mom to them.  But regardless of your definition of a good mom, there is one thing we all want for our children. That one thing is love.

We want our children to know the depths of our love for them.  We have an urge for them to experience God’s love for themselves.  So we speak it over and over again.  We live love in front of them.  With a heart of sincerity, we own up to our mess ups.  By doing so, we prove to them love still exists, and that it can truly cover a multitude of sins.

When they’re small, when they’re big, may we never stop declaring our love for them.  May we always steer them toward the ways of God.  And may we never letup telling our children how glad we are that God chose us to be their mom.

 

Posted in Overwhelmed

When Overwhelmed is an Understatement

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Have you ever felt so deeply buried beneath everything needing your attention that the word overwhelmed doesn’t even scratch the surface?  That’s where I am lately.  Feeling overwhelmed, overrun, over the edge.

If you were to visit my home today, you may wonder about my housekeeping skills.  The kitchen is in disarray from time well spent between siblings making sugar cookies.  School books and supplies cover the table, along with a few displaced Christmas decorations.

Before the evening ends, the living room will house four or five pairs of abandoned shoes, and the coffee table will be littered with cups left there by a few somebodies who have already turned in for the night.

I cringe at the mountain of laundry lurking in my bedroom. I shake my head at the floors that once again need mopping. I detest the bathrooms that are never as clean as they should be. And the paperwork, that never ending mound of paper which always finds its way onto the countertops. I’m never successful at conquering it all, despite my best efforts.

All this in one quick glance.  And it doesn’t begin to address the purging that needs to happen in the hidden parts of the house.  The closets filled with outdated or ill-fitting clothes. The collectibles that are no longer collected. The bounty of school books demanding to be cleared out and passed on.

When I concentrate on what needs to be done, I grow weary.  I don’t know where to begin, much less how to finish.  A fleeting thought darts through my mind… run away, run far away.  And yet, I stay.  I stay and linger here, in the midst of this messiness, because there is more here than meets the eye.

That flour-covered kitchen indicates that my children enjoy spending time together.  The cluttered table signifies to me that we are making progress academically, even though the excitement of Christmas is hard to tame.  The discarded shoes, piles of laundry, and dirty dishes are evidence of life – the very existence of this precious family God has entrusted to me.  And the need to do away with so much stuff is a stark reminder that God meets our needs and blesses us far more than we deserve.

Shifting my focus off my to-do list and onto my why-I-do-what-I-do list helps me tremendously.  I become less overwhelmed with what must be done, and more overwhelmed with gratitude for the sheer blessing of it all.

Yes, all these duties must be dealt with at some point, and then they’ll need doing over again. But let’s work on our perspective, sisters.  Let’s choose to see the beauty around us rather than settling on those parts that aren’t so beautiful.

So when you come calling, I’ll try not to worry too much over the cleanliness of my house.  And as we sit and chat, I pray you’ll notice the good within the walls of this house, even if the sink is full of dishes, the floors are a tad dirty, and I conveniently forget to give you a tour.