Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chasing The Light


My daughters are about to hit double digits!
I've considered this milestone birthday for sometime and wondered how I might make it special and memorable for them.
Perhaps I'm really trying to make it most memorable for myself!
It's all going so quickly, rather cliche I know, but far too true not to say.
I want to mark this 10th birthday because it's the last one they'll ever have.
My baby girls will only turn 10 once!
They're so excited to grow up.
I'm holding onto every moment, wishing I could pause and rewind a bit.
In my effort to pause their little lives, I took them into the hills to capture some photos of them.
In desperate pursuit of the "golden hour," we devoured our dinner and took off for the hills.
As we started our hike, I feared we missed it.  
A hiker on the trail passing us by simply said, "chasing the light!"
Yes, I was chasing more than light.
I was chasing my little girls that were quickly on the trail to teendom 
and then college and marriage and...
I needed to run faster.
Out of breath and increasingly disappointed,
 I ran even faster to capture the fleeing bits of gold.
And just when I thought we'd missed it, I turned around to find my girls putting flowers in each other's hair.
All too soon this life scene between sisters will repeat,
 perhaps with doing each other's hair for prom or their wedding, 
and even more then, I want to be on the trail with them, chasing the light that is their lives.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You Are Free Indeed

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of women at Cornerstone Church.
I shared with them the freedom that Jesus came to give us.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."  Luke 4:18,19

Jesus would not have come to preach this message if it were not something that we needed to hear.
He would not have endured the agony and torture of the cross if there weren't chains that only his death and resurrection could break.
There are many things that try to bind us in this life. 
Things that try to tie us up and hold us captive, keep us small and ineffective.
Insecurities
Fear
Past mistakes
Pride
Perfectionism
Guilt
Wrongs done to us
The list in inexhaustible of the things the enemy uses to chain us to a lie for the rest of our life.






But Jesus came to set us FREE!
We are promised trouble in this world as it is broken and sinful.
But Jesus overcame the world and with that he has set us free from all of the trouble that this world hurls at us.
We need only to lay down our chains and receive his freedom.
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

His death on the cross really was enough to break any chain.
You name it - nothing is too difficult for him!

 Do you need freedom today?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Imperfect Moments

This Easter had some imperfect moments that made me laugh.
Like going to church on Easter Sunday and half way there I realize that we didn't do my son's hair - my son's chia pet, thick brisolly hair which requires a good amount of gel to control it!  
Or the Easter decorations never made it up this year 
(but St. Patrick's Day decor remained through March 31st!)  
Or family photos that just can't get to the print-worthy stage!




And those imperfect moments also made me cry.
Cry with gratitude that I'm not who I used to be.
***
I sat on the toilet in the guest bathroom, large solid wood door closed in front of me.  Just in there to do normal "bathroom" things and I saw a dark knot in the wood of the door and I was immediately overcome with a flood of memories.
"Thank you Jesus for saving me."
"Thank you Jesus for rescuing me."
The words came out of my mouth, through tears, before I could even complete or process the memories that surrounded me as I sat in that bathroom.

I walked into that bathroom on Christmas day, 2011, and begged to be taken to the hospital.  I was in the throws of a severe panic attack and literally felt like I was moments away from going blank.  One more breath and I'd just stop, fade away, blankly stare for the rest of my life.  I didn't fear dying, but rather feared loosing control of my mind and my ability to process and function.  The fear was real as the reality of loosing control was already in full throws.  
I couldn't stop the nightmare.  
No words could comfort or make sense. 
I had no control of what was happening to me.
I felt like I was chasing myself down a never ending hallway, screaming, "STOP STOP STOP."
But I didn't stop.
I couldn't stop.
***
Now 5 years later, and a different holiday of celebrating, I sat and cried as the dark knots in the wood of the door told me stories that I thought would be the final chapters of my life.
But just as death was not the final word in Jesus' life, anxiety was not the final word in mine!
The same power that rose Jesus from the dead, set me free and changed my life.
"Thank you Jesus for saving me."
"Thank you Jesus for rescuing me."
Those words were so appropriate for this Easter Sunday, for not only did Jesus rescue me from hell when I die, and save me from my past sin, but He rescues me everyday from the hell we all live in and saves me time and again from the mistakes I daily make.
I'm so grateful for imperfect moments as they kindly remind me that perfectionism is a disease of self destruction.  And they also remind me that I've been set free and am grateful for a God who is not shaken nor defeated by ANYTHING.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Let's All Be Brave... in our own way!

It was a year ago this week that my husband was going in for his 3rd knee surgery.
As I was telling a girlfriend the schedule for surgery day, 
when I came to the part of him being put under, I paused.
An unexpected lump came into my throat and I almost lost it.
As I fought back tears, my friend said, "It's no big deal.  It's not heart surgery!"
Um... WHAT?
I was very aware of the fact that this was not a life or death surgery, but there is always risk when you're under anesthesia and beside, this is MY husband!
I was scared.


As I posted in the beginning of this year, my one word for the year is
BRAVE.
I didn't pick it.
It picked me.
I've been working on a project that is taking me out of my comfort zone and I assumed that the word BRAVE would apply to this new venture.
It does.
But that's not all.
This is a challenging week for me personally and whereas I'm more than aware that many are facing far more difficult circumstances, some life and death, this is MY tough circumstance and I need to be BRAVE.
Bravery looks different for everyone.
For some, being brave means walking away from a difficult relationship.
For others, being brave means staying, and working through it.
Being brave could mean taking a risk and following your dream,
writing that book, launching that company, going on that mission trip...
Or being brave might mean trusting your life into someone's hands for a time, giving up control.
I know it is different for everyone, that's why I will not compare my brave moments to yours.
For no matter how extreme or different the circumstances, bravery demands the same of all of us - 
Trust.
Ultimately I know I can be BRAVE this week because I trust the God that made me.
I trust His word to be true and I trust that He will do exactly what He says He will do.
Every time.
All the time.
Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
****
Life is promised to bring everyone challenges.
Some are extremely difficult and others are mildly uncomfortable, but
Let's All Be Brave!
And encourage one another to trust God's promises to be true.
He is with us, so we can be
BRAVE.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Learning From the Big Boys


Something that has been a mixed bag as a parent is kiddos' team sports.
Sometimes we get a good coach, sometimes we don't.
Sometimes the kids really want to play the sport and learn, 
sometimes their parents have forced them to be there!
But one thing has remained true.
When my children have been placed on teams where they are the youngest, 
least experienced or aren't the best player, they rise.
They are called higher by those around them and they greatly improve and grow.
It's awesome to see!
Little kids mentoring other little kids without even knowing it!



This is one of those awesome years for us as my little slugger got bumped up a level in baseball and now is in the youngest and least experienced category.
Without talking about the fact that there are some amazing players on his team, he just longs to be better.  He has seen these bigger boys crack that ball and he wants to do it too!
He is pushing himself, watching, learning, trying harder.
I love it!
In life, it's so important to surround ourselves with people who call us higher.
People who are doing life smarter, better, healthier, wiser than we are.
People who live like we aspire to live.
Watch them, learn from them, listen to them, and grow.

Proverbs 13:20 tells us that the one who walks with the wise, will become wise.

If we are spending most of our time with people who simply stroke our ego, 
it's likely we are not growing.
However, if we spend more time with folks who have been in the game longer than we have and have acquired more skills and wisdom along the way, we will grow, rise and become wise.
Are you at the top of your team?
Perhaps it's time to bump up a level and learn some new things from the big boys!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

No Substitute for the Truth


2 little weeks ago I posted about missing the window to prune my roses, but cutting them back anyway.  Statistics tell us that as parents we have small windows to teach our children certain things, expose them to various experiences and flavors and encourage desired behaviors, and if we miss those windows... well, who knows what will happen to our kids!!
And if we don't prune our roses in the right season, we're doomed!

But just as I know that it's never too late for change, growth and transformation in God's economy, I decided to hack down my roses anyway and to discipline my children with the hopes that God is not bound by a certain window of time and nothing is impossible with Him!

Well, just 2 weeks later, here is that same rose bush!


Only 2 weeks later and there is visible, healthy growth!
As I was looking at this rose bush today, aside from being thrilled that I didn't listen to the gardeners guide to healthy roses!, I was struck with another bit of truth.
We've been suffering from a much publicized drought here in California for quite some time.
We ration our water and only water our gardens on Mondays and Thursdays or else we get fined heavily!  Our plants are limping along just fine, but this past weekend we got some solid rain! And I kid you not, the growth after the rain is undeniable.  Almost the very next day we could see new shoots and buds spring forth on our plants and bushes!  It's unreal.
We never see that obvious growth from the sprinklers or the hose.
But the rain, pure, falling from heaven rain, nourishes like none other and spurs new growth immediately.  There is no substitute for the rain.
Made me think of Truth.
Word of God Truth.
Nothing yields more growth and abundance in our lives than the Truth of God.
So many other substitutes can help us limp along, scrape by and "make it."
But there is no substitute for the absolute Word of God that is pure Truth, falling from heaven, to heal our wounds, bring light into darkness, cleanse our mistakes, remove our scars, and
spring forth new life in dead, hopeless areas.  
It's just unmistakable.
Where do you need new growth in your life?
Are you looking to other things to nourish you and bring about change?
I encourage you to simply read the Bible, surrender to God's Truth and allow His Word to transform you in the healthiest, longest lasting way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mama Bear


 Last Summer I received a card in the mail and the writing on the envelope made my heart race.

My name was written so beautifully I had to look closely to see if it were handwritten or printed by a computer!
When I opened the envelope, the card inside had similar writing, telling me my card was handwritten!
Stunning
Amazing
A lovely surprise.
"Mama Bear"

I could hardly wait to open the card and discover who it was from!
And as I read the words, written as a lovely font, tears came to my eyes.
A girls who was a college student when I was a college pastor about 15 years ago had written me this beautiful card!  And immediately the memories flooded back as I would not mistake her writing anywhere.  I always joked that she was a "font," because her printing was unreal.
Now her font-like writing was laying before me like a piece of art and the arrangement of the beautiful lettering read like a poem.
"The Mama Bear Collection is all about encouraging mothers to remember who they are - 
strong, fierce, and enough."
She went on to thank me and encourage me as a Mama Bear.
I really was left speechless.

Today, there is more information swirling around for moms than should be allowed.
It causes us to worry and panic about every tiny decision we make for our children.
It also has had an even more damaging effect as it causes us to judge, give unsolicited advise and shame other moms who aren't doing it like we are.
It's really sad to see.
It's sad to experience.
It's sad to do.

Alisha launched her stationary business last year, Gold Press Paper.
Her motto is, "Words are Powerful - You are Powerful"
So true!
Our words are very powerful.
Words have the power to give life or bring death.
All too often as moms we use our words as weapons.
How amazing would it be if we blessed one another as Mama Bears?
If we fought FOR each other and encouraged each other with our words?
If we affirmed one another's decisions and differences instead of shaming?
We'd be a mighty ferocious pack!
Bless another Mama Bear today with mighty words of encouragement!

***head over to Alisha's site to find some amazing cards to send to someone today!

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