But First…

Coffee.

Haha! Well yes, there’s coffee. Let’s all take a moment and THANK GOD for coffee.

However, that’s not what this heart ramble is about. {Don’t get me wrong! I have LOTS of heart feels towards this amazing little bean and all it can do!}

Being aware that there are many different folks who read this blog, I will go ahead and tell you that this post is about knowing Christ. If you don’t, I hope you will find Him. {He’s ready when you are.} If you do claim to walk with Jesus and say you’re a Christian, this is about you.

But first, you are a Christian. A Christ-follower. But first, before being a ________ in your job or profession, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a parent, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a family member, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a friend, you’re a Christian. But first, before being a you-name-it {choose your hat}, you’re  a Christian.

To be completely honest, I kinda hesitated with using the term “You’re a Christian” simply because of what our culture has done to this term. Christians can, unfortunately, be seen as some of the most judgmental and unapproachable folks of all time. I am not sure when it happened, but it happened. Some Christians who followed Christ {the very definition of being a Christian} started to become something that Jesus just is not. This is by no means a ‘blanket statement’, and I am most certainly not saying all Christians fall into this. In fact, most of the fellow believers I am honored to know are very much just like Jesus. There are those, however, that say things sometimes about others that make me inwardly cringe. I don’t get it right all the time, either, and have said stuff that I am sure made others cringe. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to merge in the “Lane of Judgement” while judging them for judging! What the SAM! It’s true though, is it not?

A wee little side note about the judgmental piece though: I think a lot of times this isn’t done out of malice. I think it’s done in a similar thought process to this: “THIS IS WRONG! It’s not of God. I don’t know how else to tell this person that this is just YUCK & WRONG and against everything I was taught and know is right from the Word of God, so I’m going to go with my nose up and out and hopefully I won’t be tainted and made into one of them.” I guess you could kind of say it’s like a self-protection mechanism in some cases. It’s absolutely of God and His Word to not be “of”, but “in” the World. Yep! However, sometimes we’re so stuck in our fear-based mindset of “GET AWAY FROM ME, YUCK!” that we fail to reach those who carry it. We’re busy judging and calling out and seeing all the wrong and yuck. When we could be praying and interceding and asking God to change hearts.

Back to But First

I started thinking about this when I was doing something with one of the many irons we have in the fire. One of our many ‘hustles’. Haha! I was moving mountains and getting stuff done. I saw a way that I could shortcut something, but it wouldn’t have been 100% truthful. I mean, I could have sugar-coated it and justified the heck out of it and it would probably would have been fine. But first

“Would the people who see me as a Jesus-follower (aka Christian) still have a good taste in their mouth about Christians if I did _____ this way?” BOOM. That one got me. Those ‘random’ thoughts, I tell you! Especially dealing in a professional environment. Would your co-workers or your supervisor or manager or clients or {you name it} be moved to believe that following Jesus is something real by your actions and behavior? Do you carry heaven in your presence and your actions? So many times, I see this: Folks who are PRAAAIIISING the Lord all day long on a Sunday (seen on social media especially) and then go to work and post stuff about being on their phones at work or doing “anything” but actually working. While on the clock. But….FIRST. If you truly follow Jesus, you cannot separate your relationship with God with ANYTHING else you do. It all goes hand-in-hand. Your relationship with Him will help you do the other stuff well: with integrity and excellence. (If you’re OK with being a crappy employee or stealing time, I’d seriously question why. Why is that ok?)

There’s many other examples we could use here and examine. Family feuds, maybe? {Like real ones}. YEESH! All of it takes second row to what you are and Who’s you are. If you truly do follow Christ, there are many things that will not rest in your spirit, because they are contrary to His will and His way and His Word. But…FIRST.

With every action you take in the world, it’s always in one of two directions. It’s the 1) Yes, I am a Christ-follower and have the integrity of heaven and true righteousness and sometimes hard decisions that comes with that. Or the 2) I’ll do what serves me best and what’s easiest to deal with and has the fastest results.

If only I could {truthfully} say I never lose sight of my But…FIRST and I always go with option 1. Nope. However, the Holy Spirit (which is almost like God’s earthly ‘muscle’) will wrangle me down and that conviction comes like a hurricane. I pray it always does. The goal, as Jesus-followers, is to walk with Him so much and know His voice so well that our “default” will be of God’s kingdom. Our modus operandi {M.O.’s} would be to look more like Jesus than ourselves.

God has been stirring all sorts of stuff up in my heart, and am looking forward to sharing them in the coming weeks. Some funny, some serious, some in-between. Thank you for reading and ‘listening’ to my heart rambles!

 

 

Take 5

Get under the bed!! GIRLS–just get under the bed!” is what I remember my mom and another missionary mom yell to us kids as they came into the bedroom we were waiting in as we heard the mob just outside our ‘safe’ walls. There were some angry townspeople surrounding our house that evening, and our parents were trying to figure out how to protect us from rocks that could at any moment be thrown through the windows. Our dads were out in the living room trying to figure out how in the world to protect this man from an ‘enemy’ tribe in the midst of an angry town of people. Not only that, but they were also trying to figure out how to protect their families as well. I cannot imagine what my mom and dad and our co-worker family went through. Cannot!! {And don’t want to!}

For about 6 months, we lived in a pretty secluded little ‘town’ in Ivory Coast, West Africa. There was a situation, and we took in a ‘rival’ tribesman for his protection. Lots of ‘town/tribe’ politics I won’t delve in at the moment, but needless to say: This guy was from an enemy tribe and he was on dangerous grounds. {And this was the early 1990’s!}

But, I knew my parents would always do what was right. This guy loved the Lord, but was from a tribe not from the folks of this little ‘town’, and they wanted him dead. Literally. And…us, as the harboring missionaries–if it came to that. They didn’t care who/what/where/when. They wanted this dude dead. I was about our oldest daughter’s age now (she is almost 10 years old), and I remember it like it was a couple of minutes ago. (Makes me really stop and ponder: Our kids are remembering our ‘now‘. Are we making it something memorable? Substantial? God-Hearty? Faith-filled? Transparent? Here’s a good one: Duplicatable?)

{If you want more details, or the full story, you MUST get the books called In This Place and In Every Place by Kim L. Abernethy. Yep–none other than my mom! She kept GREAT journals and details of the ‘play-by-plays’, and you simply must read them. There’s also an e-book option from Amazon. Look ’em up!}

So finally, my dad and the other dad of our co-worker family decided they’d take this man out of town in our car. It was a very old LADA. French made, I believe? Russian, maybe? Haha! Can’t remember. But, I do remember it was our only mode of transportation at that moment. They went to our car, turned the key in the ignition ready to speed off and get this man to safety! {Que the action movie music!} Dun-dah-dun dun…

Nothing.

Turns the key again…nothing.

{Engine sluggishly attempting to try to sound like it’s trying to try to turn over…}

Defeat. Unbelief. Doubt. Fear.

I remember my dad and our co-worker’s dad coming in with this man they were trying to protect. I don’t think I’ve ever seen defeat like that on my dad’s face or countenance since. He was droopy-shouldered and tight-browed. I can only imagine his thoughts at that moment: “GOD. GOD!!!!!!! Why?!! We had a chance, a small chance to escape and get this man to safety. WHY, GOD? WHY???!!! Why now?

Not long after that, I honestly don’t remember how much time lapsed, but we had some faithful fellow Christian townsfolks who worked with us there BUST in our house.

TEACHA!! TEACHA TEACHA! I SAY…you mah not go on the road!!!!! I say, they have a tree down across the way and they will kill this man and everyone else in the car. I say, you mah NOT GO tonight on the road.

WELL.THEN. And then there was that. To think that if they did go like they planned to get this man out of town, they would have come to this ambush. They would have all died. My dad would have been killed that night on that road in that car…that wouldn’t start.

This vivid memory has stuck with me like Gorilla Glue. All through my life: I remember this. When something deters or delays, I don’t doubt (or if I do start to get that whiny/complaining spirit, I get whiplashed back to the truth). It may be God saving me and my family, and I always want to be found faithful and THANKFUL in all of it. Some may say the enemy stops God’s work and delays good things. While partially true in the fact that the enemy does like to distract and to try to dismantle our efforts, it’s impossible for him to do so. What God wills and says will be done–WILL BE DONE. No matter what in all of the hellish forces there are. God’s will and His plans will always be carried out, and sometimes…it’s in a car that won’t start.

The one true God that I love and serve and know is a God of immaculate details. He’s so perfect. Every last detail from the beginning of this planet to it’s end was and is planned out to the most minute detail. The most amazing thing happens when love meets plans. The power of God’s love for His creation {us} and the power of His flawless planning meets when we go about our lives. AND, may I add, when we walk with Him humbly and in obedience to Him, our lives are able to line up as it was intended with timing and details.

Let Him have it.

A Cardigan Vs. An Afghan

“Good morning! I LOVE your afghan!” I have said at least 6 or 7 times to different folks before regarding their CLOTHING. {I was admiring their cardigan, but for some reason my silly brain always says afghan. LoL!} Mostly, this has happened in our church on a Sunday morning as folks come through the front doors. I am part of the greeting team, and love speaking to people as they come in the door to our church. There are some stylish ladies who walk through those doors, and I mean to tell them so! However…using the correct TERM for the clothing accessory is always a plus, I tell you. Lord, have mercy.

So, by definition an afghan is: a woolen blanket or shawl, usually knitted or crocheted. It is sometimes also called a “throw” of indeterminate size. Afghans are often used as bedspreads, or as a decoration on the back of couches or chairs.

And, by definition a cardigan is: a knitted sweater fastening down the front, typically with long sleeves.

…Just in case anyone was wondering about the difference…

Those are completely different things! Haha! I am probably the only person who has ever gotten them confused, but you know what? The compliment was sincere. I truly did love it if I said I did. (If I could have put it on and rocked it right then–I totally would have.) Who cares if I am by my lonesome on this. I am not competing for God’s spot of perfection in my life–just walking in the “footprints” He already made. I’ll miss the “perfect fit of feet” sometimes. But there will be times I actually fit it just right. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Same for you.

Be sincere when complimenting someone on something. Be real with that! It’s powerful.

Goodness, ya’ll. A compliment can put planets into orbit in someone’s life. I only know because it’s happened to me. Proverbs 25:11 says this: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” The contrast between silver and gold is pretty substantial! And a word that is sincerely spoken will carry the message and purpose it was intended for. Trying to fill in the gaps with our own words of “filler” {or flattery} will only dull the spaces that was intended for good {or GOLD}. Choose words wisely!

But, also, laugh at yourself–will you? I can’t believe I have said afghan vs. cardigan a whopping 6 or 7 times. Thank God {most} of the people have laughed it off with me, but there have been a couple of folks who were like: “Heh.heh.Yeeaaah. Okie. Not quite what I call it, but…ok, yeah.”

And I totally do not blame them. What in the world? They may have {for a split second} thought: “OMGgoodness. Did I seriously wear my couch’s blanket today?!” Haha!! I love that I have laughed with people I have never met before in my life, though. “Yeah, that’s funny, eh? AFGHAN. Ha-ha-ha! Nope. No ‘afghans’ here! THANK YOU, though!”

I think now that I have written a blog post about this: CARDIGAN has bought permanent real estate in my brain. If you ever hear me say “afghan”, please question it!! *wink*

But also, taste your words before they proceed from your lips. Taste ’em before you say ’em. {Compliment or not…}.

THE Two Best Days

Mark Twain said it best: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Holy smokes! Let that soak in for a hot minute. I know that there are other incredible days in one’s life, and maybe some beg to differ on Twain’s quote. If you’re a believer in Christ, you may even say that the day you became a Christian was your best day ever. And maybe, it was. But maybe, it wasn’t. I kinda want to go beyond those walls right now–like, I want to go beyond the expected and comfortable.

Before you were created, whether you believe this or not, God had a master design for your life. It’s like your soul was bottled up on heavenly shelves and before you came to earth in your mother’s womb, you were already you. Your soul was already created, and ready for action. You were woven into your human/Earthly body when God saw fit. You could have been born at any point in history or the future. But you weren’t! You were born and lived on this tick mark on the timeline. Why though?

I always get amused thinking of things like: God, did you not think I could go without modern creature comforts? B.C. Old Testament times would’ve looked good on me! {Or…maybe not. Haha! Maybe that’s a HUGE NO?} Only in the last hundred years from where we are now, 2018, have times really ramped up to what we know as “modern”. But all that aside: Why you & I, why now?

Well, that’s a great question. We all know that the birth of a new baby is a beautiful thing: it’s a new little slimy human catching their first breath of this earthly atmosphere. Even for preemies in the NICU. What’s fed through those tubes/vents is still earthly air. Even for life that wasn’t desired and given straight into the arms of an adoptive family. Or, for the life that would be taken from something like SIDS {ALL too soon}. Or the new life that would be neglected and ‘forgotten’. All life that takes it’s first breath is ordained by it’s Giver–and it’s beautiful. And it’s for a reason. Make no mistake. (In it’s ugliest and prettiest forms.}

So, we covered: “the day you & I were born” from the quote. But, what about the why we were born? WHY? Well, what if it’s a bunch of different WHY’s and made into a beautiful mosaic of a life? Each act of kindness or each loving word. All that’s going to your “WHY-mosaic”. In other words: Because you existed, this piece of the mosaic is complete and in place.

The ultimate reason you and I exist is for relationship though. Beyond any other function or reason. Whether you believe in God or not–He wants relationship with you.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Twain may have been talking about our life’s accomplishments here, or goals or even talents. Like, the Babe Ruth’s of the game of baseball. It would seem he was born for baseball. (But seriously, he was INCREDIBLE. And still holds a WR in 40+ home runs!) One would think: “Eh! For sure his life’s purpose was baseball.”

Well, let me act and sound like a ‘pastor’ real quick and ask you to turn to your Bibles to Ecclesiastes. Pretty much the entire book. (I’d recommend reading it all. Right now.) It’ll bring things to perspective real quick if you have the eyes to see and ears to hear! Kicks me in the pants every.time.

Let me paraphrase especially Ecclesiastes Chapter 1:7– “ALL is vanity. All the streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.” Daaaaaang.

Do not make the mistake of misinterpreting what I am saying here. What you are doing does matter: You are making that beautiful mosaic picture of your life and your purpose here on earth.

HOWEVER! What is all of it without true relationship with God? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Some “feel” better when they’re nice and in the “handing an apple to a cardboard-carrying homeless person” stage or they are helping someone with a bill or buying them clothes. No doubt this is important and meaningful stuff. And doing this with God’s guidance of the who’s/where’s/when’s is imperative. It means you are true relationship and you are listening to that “still small voice”. {Why would such a big God make His voice ‘still small’?} That is a whole ‘nother, ‘nother. He just does. Wheeewww.

If there ever was a boat, a learning boat, I am on it. A boarding pass-carrying member. The boat of relation-over-function. The boat of heart-over-action.

I just want to learn how to put all my life’s actions/ministries UNDER my relationship. Why we were born: Relationship.

Going back to our roots in the Garden of Eden, we see this. Humanity was created just below the angels. Humanity was created for relationship. Relationship that we would choose the one TRUE God over everything else. 

And there’s our answer: WHY were you born? Well, according to the Word in Ecclesiastes, all else is vanity besides one thing: Relationship with our Creator.

 

 

 

The Useful Predicament

I’m writing this now, because I know if I keep putting it off–I won’t! It’s already uncomfortable enough to be putting this into words. But…one of my missions for this blog is to share my experiences, and hey. If I can share and someone gleans something useful, my heart is full! And it wasn’t for nothing. However–a big fat however–vulnerability isn’t one of my strongest suits. So here goes nothing!!

Last Saturday, I woke up ready for the day. Kind of. I’m not a morning person by any stretch, so take “ready” lightly! The girls and I had some errands to run while Frank hustled in his side business: car detailing. I was catering a wedding later that day.

Got in the car, headed to Target. All was well. {Coffee was in hand!}

It started with feeling light-headed. It was like when there’s turbulence while you’re flying in a plane. You go UP and then your gut is in your throat as you come back down

But the coming back down is where I stayed…for at least 8 hours or more. Actually, I kept going. Down, down, down. It was such an unexpected feeling of ALL the things! Terrible, terrible feelings of hopelessness, guilt, sadness. So MANY feelings of desperation. It felt like I was literally crawling out of my skin! Hyperventilating, dizziness, heart racing.

Folks, I don’t deal with anxiety. Not on a physical scale like this. I may have the heart-and-mind stuff like most folks do at some points in their lives for various reasons here and there. But this? A completely different animal all on it’s own! There are no reasons in my life where this kind of attack could take a foothold. There’s just not! I have been so blessed in my life with my family and friends and life. Amazing all in it’s own right! There’s nothing that I can see moving forwards where this can take a foothold in my life: It was simply and LITERALLY out of this world. I NEVER want to go through that again. EVER.

I kept moving, though. I trudged. Every step I took was like pulling through quicksand! One.foot.in.front.of.the.other. My errands took us to a few places, and I did come into contact with a few folks. Some trying to make small talk, and I just wasn’t having it. I normally love small talk and little conversations! I love people. But this day, I felt like my light was gone. Like, GONE. I felt dull and light-less (and lifeless). Smiling actually was pretty hard to do!

Got to my catering job, and starting doing what I do. Talking to other folks helped immensely. I slowly snapped out of it mostly by that night, but the dull throb was still there although the sharpness of this attack had left. It was like getting a deep tissue massage that hurts like the SAM DICKENS while it’s happening, and afterwards you are sore! That’s exactly what it was like.

“Welp. That was completely out of left field,” I thought to myself that night when I got home and got myself ready for bed. Never saw that coming! “And I never want to experience it EVER.AGAIN.”

Let me admit this real quick: I was once (as in just last week before Saturday!) in the camp of various thoughts on panic attacks/anxiety. Stuff like {but not limited to} this:

“Eh. Just focus on other stuff and you’ll be able to snap out of it.”

“I really think that is all in your head.”

“Come on. Can’t you see how your personality is contributing? Loosen up!”

“This isn’t actually real, you know.”

“There’s got to be something you’re doing to cause this.”

“It’s just hormonal.”

Etc.

And while yes, there may be folks who struggle with anxiety who are doing things {knowingly or unknowingly} that invite a demonic foothold to take place in their lives causing pure hell in their lives–sometimes though, there’s no rhyme or reason or explanation. Perhaps it is something subconscious that’s surfacing or a lack of sleep or…the list could go on. Who knows? I sure don’t claim to.

I just know this: I am 101% more understanding, sympathetic and even empathetic than I was last week. I had a physical shift in my view of this issue. I don’t condone identifying with it or condone the continuation of the foothold allowances. I don’t at all condone that. However, for these seriously debilitating encounters of anxiety and panic–I get it now. I honestly never thought I’d say that, and before now I would have seen this as weakness in another.

Sometimes God allows things to happen because we need to be reminded of how to love others for where they’re at. As constant as their problems/issues may seem: They are real to them. When you get a taste of it for yourself, your entire mindset shifts! I know mine did. I wanted to share this insanely bizarre time with you. I don’t know which camp you’re in. I don’t think I ever thought about it, because I thought I was right about people just needing to get over themselves and their ‘issues’. Boy. Ok.

What’s the solution to all of this? Dunno. Well, I do. But there’s so many types of people and reasons they are struggling. There’s so many folks out there who deal with anxiety and depression and panic attacks and despair and suicide and hopelessness and lifelessness…

JESUS. Coming down from another heaven like a forward moving wind. Go forth. Go lightly.

Cilantro

So the other day, the Lord spoke through an herb. Haha! I guess stranger things have happened.

I made one of our easy peasy go-to slow cooker meals, and was prepping it for the girls on their plates before we rushed out of the door for swim practice. (Swim season! It’s wonderful but INTENSE!) This go-to meal is delicious, too. It’s chicken, black beans, diced ‘maters, and corn. Oh! And cream cheese–cannot forget that. Put some spices on the chicken before dumping all of the above on top of it and BAM! Dinner is served. Well, in about 6 hours!

Back to the prepping. I yelled out “GIRLS! Do you want fresh cilantro on your chicken stuff or not?”

{Silence…}

GIRLS! FRESH CILANTRO OR NOT?”

Sweet little voices in the distance: “YES! But…do we have any fresh cilantro?”

“UM…yes. Why else would I offer it if I didn’t have it?? Do you want chips ‘n salsa too? AND ARE YOUR GOGGLES AND CAPS IN YOUR BAGS??? WE’RE NOT COMING BACK HOME! GOT YOUR TOWELS READY?! PUT EVERYTHING BY.THE.DOOR.

{Just being real! I don’t think I’m the only swim parent to have ever said these words. If your kids are perfect, I am so happy for you!}

I continue to prep and make plates and the Lord, in His ‘still small voice‘ very carefully says: “Why would you offer it if you didn’t have it?”

The conversation continued from my heart and mind to Him: “I wouldn’t have.”

“Why would I offer Myself–including My love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, self-control, meekness, long-suffering and patience… if I didn’t have them to give to you? That fruit to partake of is not just an empty promise, and I don’t say it’s your’s for nothing. When you walk with Me, it’s your’s to have. Take freely!”

“Huh. Truth.”

“I wouldn’t promise my steadfast love to you if I didn’t have it. I would never promise anything that’s not already your’s.”

And folks, since that moment–I have been warming under the truth of this revelation. And He spoke through an herb!

And it’s true. He would never say He wanted to give us something He didn’t already have! Even in those dark moments, those darkest times.

In saying that, I had to hold on for dear life recently to His promises. During a recent episode of 8 hours of emotional hell, I had to hold on to all the promises. This happened recently, and I will be blogging about it soon. No, nothing is going on in the natural that would contribute to such a hellish experience. There was absolutely no reason for me to experience what I did, but…God. He allowed it for a reason, and I am actually excited about sharing it. It’s very uncomfortable for me to be so vulnerable about it, but I know I didn’t go through that for nothing. Stay tuned!

Press Clippings

A ‘press clipping’ is:

–a paragraph or a short article cut out of a magazine or a newspaper.

Our life is made of press clippings. Well, not ‘literally’, unless you’re a celebrity or something. Poor things! One moment after another literally published online or in print. Thankfully, for the majority of us, our non-literal press clippings entail our moment-to-moment plays in life. One deed or thought after another. Negative or positive. Inward or outward focused. Upward or downward…

All those clippings make up our lives, and we’re the one’s who put them there. My pastor gave a message on this last Sunday, actually. The focus was a little different, but somewhat the same as this blog’s purpose. The title is “Write Your Own Epitaph”. Brilliant. You know, you actually can. Starting now. Here’s the link, just in case you want it:

http://eastsidechurch.co/category/listen

I guess we want to sometimes remember the things we did right or the things we succeeded in. And how it affects others and how what ‘we’ did actually meant something; and therefore, clip those proverbial little pieces of paper for safe keeping and reminiscing in our hearts and minds. Nothing wrong with that! It’s great to have little non-literal trinkets and reminders to remember things by and think about in the future. Sometimes they help us get through valleys when it seems that nothing is going the way we think it should or ALL THE CRAP is hitting the fan. There are those seasons where we all feel like all we’re doing is cleaning brown spots off the walls.

This isn’t going to be a long post, because it’s just not. It doesn’t really need to be! It could be a simple social media post, actually. But I wanted to dive just a little deeper than that. It’s something that’s been on my heart lately, and have learned to share it when it just won’t go away!

So, back to press clippings. How about our own press clippings. Each of our lives has incredible moments. We’re gonna talk about the shining moments right now, not the not-so-shiny. They all look very different, as they should. But we all have those mountain-top moments with awe-inspiring views.

Gosh, those views. It’s so beautiful to see something we have actually done right and it’s making a difference. Stuff like, for a short list of examples, but not limited to:

  • giving a homeless human a nibble or cash
  • having the right word at the right moment for a friend
  • posting something on social media and hitting the ‘nail on the head’
  • giving a unique gift to someone and it’s just right
  • having a prophetic word and it resonates
  • being the ‘perfect’ spouse for your mate in a particular moment
  • being the ‘perfect’ parent in a particular moment; a moment that’ll shape a life
  • knowing that how your volunteer your time/effort helps others in distinct ways
  • visiting a friend or family member and it was just the right time
  • blessing others with your unique talents and abilities
  • promoting and supporting others (friends/family) in their businesses
  • providing ways of (friends/family) to make money, being that connection point
  • leading another soul to Jesus Christ to spend their eternity with Him

ETC, Etc. etc.

The above list will never end! And I hope it doesn’t. Because it means you and I don’t stop being the “hands and feet of Jesus” and your life is a flowing river and not a stagnant reservoir. It means you and I are blessings to those around us, and that’s exactly what we’re called to be. One of the many things.

So what does press clippings have to do with this? Well, they are something you clip out purposefully to go back and read to remember.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with remembering a moment, a time or person you impacted. God does use this. He uses this to encourage us to keep going.

Sometimes, though–the opposite happens. We get parked on the parking space of “that” clipping and we keep reveling in it. We keep re-living it and re-playing it in our minds. We keep getting the renewed butterfly-sensation in our stomachs as we see in our mind’s eye what happened here. If we’re parked with our “motors” shut off in the spot of whatever our “gorgeous” view is, it’s merely impossible to keep moving forward. Unless we put it back in drive and keep trucking down the road. Casting all glory to God as we race along. Don’t look back in the rear view mirror unless you know God is asking you to recall that glorious moment that you did something right. Keep driving. Another moment is about to happen, and you may miss it if you’re looking back.

Stay humble. It’s so easy to get puffed up and bloated–and “bloated” is the proper word here. I know it sounds “augh!”, so that’s a GOOD thing in this instance. Do not be bloated!{or puffed up!} Deflate yourself. (Before someone or something deflates you for you. Not fun.) I’m not talking about deflating yourself to the point of scraping around the floor with false-humility, either. That’s for another post. 😉 False humility is just as dangerous as haughty pride.

But, as I could never say it better than straight from the Word of God, here’s a few great examples straight from Scripture:

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others.”

Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but do to justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Proverbs 29:23 “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”

So these darn press clippings. What to do with them? What to do with the stuff we actually did right? Well, if one means a great deal to you: clip it. Store it. And every time you look at it, PRAISE GOD for it going right. It only means His Spirit was there guiding you for that very thing which you’re “reading” to go in the positive direction. Without God, it would never have pointed North. He is love and kindness, and everything that is love and kindness is most LITERALLY from Him.

But dear friends, guard yourself in reading and looking and tarrying over those clippings of your’s. Yes, you did it right. You made a difference. With God’s guidance and His love in your hearts. Don’t park there, though. Because if you do, you won’t get to your next destination of where God wants to take you.

I know that love.

So some of us are fortunate enough to know the warm, true and unconditional love of a parent or parent(s). I do. I grew up knowing from when I can start remembering when I remembered, if that makes sense. They were always, and still are {praise the Lord} still here. Loving and cheering and steering. As I’m in my almost mid-thirties now and not three years old, hopefully I’m to that point of them just having to ‘steer’ here and there. I still need my ‘mommy and daddy’ though. Boy do I ever!

Even when I was a baby– and could not physically remember–the kisses and the blessings and the gentle caresses on my head covered in red baby-fur/hair…they were there. And they were blessing me and praying over me and lifting me up to Heaven. From both of my parents. Even today, my mom and dad are best of friends and incredible ministry partners. Not something you see every day. {Examples}.

In saying all of the ‘fairy tale’ sounding babyhood and childhood of mine, I am fully aware–and almost painfully–that there are starts and little-hoods not so fortunate. I have talked to/am close friends with first-line folks who lived hell on Earth in their youngest years. I know it’s not something to be thrown around and dismissed as non-essentials. Where your foundation started is really something to ponder.

There are two foundations, really. When you take a step back and look at the big picture.

1. God. His original plan. His plan for good because of His perfect love.  We can read in Scripture what truths are said about us from before we were formed on this planet. We can know who we are and MOST importantly WHO’S WE ARE.

Some may say something like this: Well, what about the starving/abused/neglected/ orphan child/baby in India or Africa or North Carolina, USA or Ukraine or Brazil or……___________{insert country here: because, they’re there.} Children across the planet are in this dire predicament. So, what about them? Is that God’s plan? For them to be starved and beaten and anything but loved? Nope. It is most certainly not. Well, isn’t He most powerful? How could He allow this? >>>It was us. It was humans who opened this door. Don’t you realize He actually has given us, a race, a being–this much power? To disconnect ourselves from heaven if we so choose. We are {just a hair bit} lower than the angels, but He gave us free will. Something even the angels are not able to have. We all know the story of Adam & Even and the Garden of Eden–so I will not waste time there.

However…it’s where it all started. Free will was given the reigns in our human race. And that’s why parents of these said children can let go (sometimes for good–for their own children’s good) or beat or starve or relinquish control of kiddos. I am sure I am not mentioning reasons why flesh and blood born out of a body aren’t cared for by the body it was giving birth by. Free will. It’s all that. And aaaalllll the in-betweens.

And a lot of times, free will lands a child right into the arms of a mom and dad {or just a mom or just a dad} who were built for them from the beginning. God works even in our free will hot mess! He does. Every day, in fact. Every second, more specifically. He knew from the beginning what we would be, who we’d be with. Take it–wherever it is and whoever it’s with–and point it North. Towards Heaven. He’s there and ready and receive your story–He already knows it. Take what you are and where you’re from and fling it towards God. I promise you, He’s got it. And for all those orphans in foreign countries: He’s got them, too. He’s also got the ones right in our own country. He’s not surprised. He’s all love. He loves them. Let’s pray that in every.single.chance.we.get.

Foundations. If the above story is your’s or you carry the nowparent’s role–this is where it starts. It re-starts with you. Keep the light of eternity in view: Although some days may be purely heaven or hell: Eternity. Keep it there.

2.  Those of us who are from a background of seemingly flawless starts. Our parents loved us from when we popped out from the birth canal. We were wanted from conception. How very blessed. Some of us can say that. {And some of us can say that our parents finally ‘got used to’ the idea–speaking of parental stories–of having us and grew to love us before we made our Earthly appearance!} So, in other words, as soon as we came out and took our first breaths (covered in gross-but-beautiful-uterus-stuff), we were caught with a net of love from the birth-giver and birth-seeder. That’s not the case in so many cases. It is in a lot, though. And that’s what this point is about.

We were raised from the beginning with kisses of love and being treated as if we were a treasure. We are treasures from heaven woven into humans and we landed into the waiting arms of man and woman. {For the record, that’s what we all are…treasures…such treasures.} We are so significant to God that we can simply choose Him and live for Him {easier said than done, but doable} and BOOM. There it is. Surrender & obedience.

So, on a personal note: I always knew I was loved. From before I could remember. From both my mom and my dad. Not one second that I can remember when I felt “unstable in love”. I remember growing up with a foundation that was in stone; in rock. Never wavering or unsure. Again, I know this is rare. I treasure my upbringing and will never take it for granted. This is my story though, and I want to share it. As a beacon of hope. It does exist. Maybe you are meant to be that for a {this} child or {that} child. Only you know.

These ‘fairy tale’ stories do exist. How many of you, (hands raised) think of this when it comes to your kids? If you have them. If you don’t–what kids are in your life who you can make a difference in? (If you care)? Regardless if they’re from your body or not: If they’re in your life: Are you making sure they know WHO THEY ARE and WHO’s THEY ARE? That’s truly all that matters. Truth.

 

 

 

For the Ladies and the Gents

I titled this “For the Ladies and the Gents” because it’s coming from a woman’s perspective, but men can read it too. Actually, it may even help ya get in our heads a little. No promises to actually understanding us women through this simple post, but this may provide about 0.5% out of 100% of some vital perspective into our spaghetti bowl of thoughts/feelings/emotions. Good luck and many blessings to you, guys. When we as women can’t explain it sometimes, there’s only heavenly hope that you can. Haha!

Our bodies. Our female bodies. This is an interesting thing to take a look at: Not literally, but introspectively. Let’s delete {real quick} what just popped into your mind as you read “female bodies”, shall we? Yes! And thank you.

There’ll be a few “point of views” that I spell out. I am sure I’m missing a few pieces here and there within these points, but here’s the unedited and raw version from my heart as I see it. I know there’s deeper caverns, but I am not going to stress WordPress out with those right now.

First, I am going to write to you from a {happily} married women’s point of view. I’m not going to get all tangled up in the “stuff” that could possibly come from this gorgeous view. I just have something specific on my heart I want to share from being me and seeing this picture.

Back to the “body” thing. Ok, ok. Yes. Once you’re married–one’s body doesn’t decide whether you’re going to schedule ‘date #2″, right? Well, true. You’re going to see many changes in your body once you’re married. For example: The ‘gym’-7-days-a-week stage when you’re ripped, the ‘eh’ stage when you’re mediocre or the ‘fluffy’ stage. OR, MY FAVE: All the stages in between these 3. {Where most of us are in.}

Wherever you’re at, if your husband is truly a loving one: He loves you. That means all of you or the you that you saw peacing-out on the scale. Every ounce of cellulite that you see peeping and taunting never makes eye contact with your love. He sees your core and your bright ideas and your beautiful heart and your efficient mind and feels your love to him. {and, if you have kids–to them.} Although none of it is perfect. It’s committed though. And to a man, the respect within that commitment means more than gold. He’s not making a tally sheet of every piece of cellulite or flab or “bye-bye” arm he sees. Yes, he may note the change over time. He may even notate the difference from your previous body to this one. {In any direction it may be going.}

Doesn’t matter. What matters most to him regarding your overall being (hopefully, probably, MOST LIKELY}: Are you in a good, healthy spot in life and how are you emotionally? Mentally? Whether a little skinny or a little fluffy–or anywhere in between. We’ve all been both. How are you?

Our self-consciousness comes from our point of views. Think of it! YOU may notice that one dip in your skin from cellulite, but he doesn’t. He is not thinking of that. YOU are thinking of this and that change: so naturally you bring that into your time together.

Analogy *alert* below:

Bringing that in or feeling this way {I have been guilty} is like pulling up a chair for the awkward third wheel on a date–ordering it dinner and even dancing with it. Don’t!! So weird in real life, right? Pull that chair out from that sucker and keep moving forward. *strong arm emoji* Even better, if you can, point the third-wheeler out and name it: {fat, flabby, jiggly, wide, gaunt, bony, pale, thin, sickly, ETC}Then, get rid of it because you know which one it is and tell it to leave. Name your awkward third-wheelers and kick them right on out. Those aren’t ‘you’.

Second,  from a {hopefully, married} man. I’m not one. Obviously. But, if I were–I’d speak as though from my husband’s point of view. He’s the one I’ve known most intimately and it would only make sense. So, here goes nothin’:

“I love you for you. Not for your butt or your eyes or your hair. Yes, those things (and all in between) matter because I love them and their distinct attributes, but that’s it. Not because of the change or consistency they bring. I just don’t care about that piece of cellulite you see. I see and feel the woman I love and I’ll love her with all her physical ebbs and flows.”

See, ladies? {again, hopefully, married}. You see it and it’s there like the third wheel, but not for him! Let it gooooooo…

You make it something because you see it as something. 99.9% of the time, he doesn’t see it that way.

Third perspective, while we’re on the subject of our bodies, ladies. You think everyone in the world is seeing what you do while you’re nude in the bathroom mirror. But, in reality–nah. Not really.

I’ve had people say to me all the things about their weight, all the time. Whether from the lighter numbers or the heavier numbers on the scale. I look. I analyze. Sometimes I can see what they’re saying. But, I’d said about 80% of the time I just cannot. They look perfect the way they are. I am so very much in this boat myself. On a very vulnerable note! Just to keep things real: I find myself in those merciless waves of perfection sometimes. Thank GOD that Jesus was the only perfect human to ever walk this Earth!! Only because He was also God. God and Man (human): The only perfect combination to physically touch our planet in a flesh and blood kind of way.

This is not a duck and roll move to avoid getting healthy. Health: Emotional, physical, mental, etc. is a good thing. It’ll pack some punch. Health, in whatever form, will hit hard where it needs to. All our lives are so different and unique! I truly believe that God uses each and every piece in what season it is in for it’s pure purpose.

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And we’re baaaack from the rabbit trail: You know you. First and foremost–are you healthy? Physically and emotionally? They are both equally important.

Regarding this particular subject: Ladies, are you healthy? For the Gents: Are you helping your lady in her road to all things health? Words of affirmation or something like meal planning or letting her have time to work out? Help her where you can. She does need your willingness and your selflessness: and most importantly, because you love her, your heart in letting her be the best she can be.