Thursday, July 11, 2019

Feeling less than? You don't have to.

Life is a mixture of calm, peaceful moments and chaotic uproars. Just when you arrive and have smooth ground underneath your feet, you come face to face with a mountain.  Do you detour? Do you climb it? Are you prepared for the task? 

It wouldn't necessarily be life if this didn't happen, right? After all, isn't the point of life to be challenged and grow while transforming into your best self? How else will you grow if you don't get pushed and tested?

It is easy for these large mountains of troubles to bring us down. They can be overwhelming, frustrating, and seem impossible. You may walk through day-to-day life as if everything is fine only to go home and sit motionless wondering what you are going to do to overcome. 

There is a good chance that someone along the way has told you that you ought not to focus on the negative things and, instead, focus on the good in your life. Sure. If only it were that easy, right? Let's just dismiss those struggles and that gigantic mountain blocking the sun and focus on the fact that we woke up this morning. 


Wait, what? 

When you feel like you are struggling under the weight of everything, finding the beauty in life itself can make that rugged mountain a bit easier to tackle. Showing gratitude can be a great way to remind yourself that, although you have struggles in this moment, your life is still magnificently beautiful. 

But, what if you had something even better? What if you had your own best friend who is always there no matter what - and not just to tell you to look on the bright side? This best friend can... 

Provide you comfort when you are feeling anxious. 
Lend a helping hand when you are feeling less than. 
Remind you that you are loved and worthy of goodness. 
Heal your broken pieces when you feel defeated. 
Show you that your troubles will create a new, stronger version of yourself. 
GOD will hold your head up when you can't. 

There was once a little guy named David. He went up against a giant - Goliath - that no one else could defeat. Everyone thought he was being foolish. But, David knew he had God on his side. All it took was a huge amount of faith in his best friend and a tiny little stone. Using his slingshot, he took down the giant. 

“...You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!" 
- 1 Samuel 17:45, 47 NLT 

Won't you allow God to let the mountains ahead of you build your strength and solidify your faith?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Raising Someone Else’s Kids

Raising Someone Else’s Kids

“Do you have kids?”

That is always a tough question for me. And I always find myself stumbling over my answer. Yes, technically. I mean, they aren’t necessarily mine as in the normal way one has kids, but, in all other ways, yes, I have kids.

To be more specific, I have a stepson and two nephews. In my mind, though, they are all my kids. I didn’t have them so-to-speak, but they are mine.

And, here’s why. This is what it is like raising someone else’s kids.

When someone plays too rough outside and falls off a skateboard, tumbles over a basketball, or skids off a bike, you make sure you are there to wipe the blood, clean the wound, and dry the tears.

When someone feels beat down after a rough day at school or gets frustrated with a homework assignment, you speak uplifting words and provide encouragement.

When someone has a favorite breakfast, you go out of your way to make sure it is available in the morning.

When someone has interests, goals, and the like, you do what you can to guide their pursuit. You let them explore the things that matter to them.

When they do well, you praise them.

When they make a poor choice, you correct them.

When a kid gets excited about something, you feel yourself getting excited, too.

You brag about them.

You show up for them.

You sing with them, act goofy, and have your own inside jokes.

You do what you can to not let them down. And, if you ever accidentally do, you beat yourself up for it long past the time they’ve stopped thinking about it.

You make sacrifices to see them smile.

You hug and kiss them goodnight.

And, by all means, you tell them you love them.

Life is not easy. Life with kids is surely a rough ride. And, nobody – including myself – is perfect.
Raising someone else’s kids should be no different than raising your own biological children. Moral of the story? It doesn’t matter who had the darn kids – you raise them as if you did. You treat them as if they are yours. And you love the heck out of them.

You know, one of the wisest women I know once told me that you don’t ever love any kid differently, whether they are your own or your stepchild or another child in your care. She said that each child deserves to have unconditional love.

When I first fell into this role in my life, I had a hard time believing that. Not that I didn’t think all children should be loved unconditionally, but I felt that there is a certain piece of you that is bound to that child when it is biological. Something that I wouldn’t know for sure, of course. Perhaps I am wrong – I will leave that to all of you biological parents to discuss.

But I have grown into the woman that I am knowing that the love I have for the children in my life is not conditional. That there is not possibly anything I would do more or less for them if they came from me. I give them my all. Every day. Rain or shine. And, I do it because they are mine. All three of them.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Be a diamond - shine bright

Life is not always easy, is it? Could you imagine if it was? Everyone would walk around happy, stress-free and carefree. And, while that may sound perfect, it isn't. Why? Because we grow out of the struggles we face. 

Many of us are either in the middle of something rough or we know someone who is. Life's hurdles will be different for each individual but encountering things such as: 

losing a job


battling cancer


dealing with teenage struggles


waiting to hear a doctor's diagnosis


walking away from a marriage

the loss of a loved one


These are awful events that are capable of bringing even the strongest person down. They can make us turn inward, leading to anger and frustration, and, maybe even a bus ride straight into a life of darkness. 

But, let's stop and think about Jesus for a minute. This guy lived his life in the light. He encountered resistance and doubt during his travels. He endured unimaginable pain and torture. And, he was killed as if he was one of the most horrible criminals. 

Did he complain? No. Did he turn inward? Nope. Did he get angry and frustrated? Not at all. Guess what else he did not do? He never blew out his light. 

So, no matter what you are going through at this stage in your life, do not let your light go dark. We live in a world where so many people do -- and where so much darkness exists. 

God needs you to shine so that you may show others the way. "Do everything without complaining and arguing so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the world of life..." - Philippians 2:14-16

Sunday, June 30, 2019

How many times would you make the call?

Can you recall the last time you heard from God? Have you ever heard from Him? God (in one of his forms) can reach out to us in many different ways -- sometimes it is an audible voice, other times it may be a vision or a dream, and yet other times it may just be an instinct or strong feeling.

Of course, we don't want to jump to conclusions and think that everything that we hear, see, or feel is actually God communicating with us. But, we do want to be open and let God know that we are waiting on him -- whenever he thinks we are ready.

Did you ever read in the bible about Samuel's first time hearing from God? Check this out in 1 Samuel 3:4-10 (NLT):

Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Do you ever feel like Samuel? I do. Perhaps it is that we feel we are too small to hear from God. Or maybe it is because we are so wrapped up in our busy lives that we just don't hear him. 

Be ready. When he calls for you, answer. God has plans for you... don't miss his message. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

He knows your name.

Hey you. Yeah, you. Do you know that you are important? Do you know that you were made on purpose? And, no we aren't referring to how your mom told you that you were an accident. 

God doesn't make accidents. If he wanted you here, he put you here. Right where you are. 

In this insanely huge world, though, it is so easy to just feel like nothing more than a tiny dot. Maybe you even feel like a worker bee. You get up, you go to work, you come home and do it all again tomorrow. In fact, I was having lunch with some beautiful ladies yesterday and one of the waitstaff said he was tired. He said, "You know how it is when you become an adult. It seems like you go to work and then back home. Work and home. Work and home." 

One day, he will discover that life is more than this repetition. It may feel like that is all there is, but life really is made up of so much more. And, you were made for so much more. 
Think about it. There is an entire universe out there and God chose to create you. He wouldn't just do it for no reason.

God knows your name.
He knows the sound of your voice. 
He knows the beat of your heart. 
God knows you -- Every part of you. 

So when you start to feel as if you don't matter or you question why you are here -- remember God created you. He has you here for a reason. And, when it is time, he will welcome you home -- by name.  

"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." 
-- John 10:3 (NLT)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Finding a place to talk to God.

Why do we think everything has to be pretty and perfect for us to totally get through to God? As if our direct line will somehow be disconnected if it doesn't meet the specified design qualifications.

We have journaling bibles, journals, devotionals galore. We hang up cute signs with fun sayings and quotes. We spend so much time creating a colorful space that will LOOK like it feels close to God that it never actually feels like anything. Instead of it helping us to better connect with God, all these frills just simply end up clogging up the line.

Come on, I know you understand what I am saying. Think about it. How many of you wanted to create a prayer room after the movie War Room was released a few years ago? The idea of having a closet or dedicated prayer space was not the so-called norm. Then, all of a sudden, everyone needed one. 

And, what happened? Everyone started decorating the space to make it pretty. And, of course, merchandising companies jumped on the bandwagon and designed cute corkboards, inspirational notecards, pillows, and so much more for you to fill up your prayer room and walls. Websites, like this one, became dedicated to teaching you just how to transition the space into something magical.  

Except... one thing was missing: the actual prayers!

Getting wrapped up in all this hype is easy. Unfortunately, though, it won't take long for you to realize that something is missing and your prayer space feels empty and cold. 

Think about your prayer life

It is a good idea to take time to think about your prayer life. How strong is it? How dedicated are you? Do you spend very long in prayer? Do you have a dedicated prayer space or schedule? 

Daniel - yes, the one who survived the lion's den - had a designated prayer schedule and space. Did you know that? Everyone who knew him knew when and where he prayed. It was like clockwork.

"...he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before." - Daniel 6:10 (NIV)

You can read the full text here or start in the Book of Daniel in your Bible. 

Final thoughts... 

God doesn't care where you talk to him, what it looks like, what you say, or even what your hair looks like. In fact, he wouldn't care if you spent time with him before you even shower in the morning! 

When it comes to prayer, the only thing that matters is the relationship between you and God. Nothing else. 

Personally, I have always struggled with this. Every now and then, something just seems disconnected between God and me. And, usually, when I take a hard look at why this is happening, my focus seems to be on worrying about something meaningless. 

My family and I planted a garden (and thankfully we've kept it alive thus far). God's been meeting me here lately. Sitting outside for a half hour every morning, God and I either chat or I simply listen. No frills. Just me, a plastic chair, and the great outdoors. Well, a cup of coffee, too, of course. And God shows up no matter what!

Do you have a specific place where you like to talk to God? 

Friday, April 12, 2019

10 Easter Bible Verses to Lift You Up

Hey, did you know Easter is right around the corner? This year, it falls on Sunday, April 21st. And, I don't know about you, but I always find it joyful to dig into the Bible and see what it has to say about the Resurrection.

I mean, after all, this is HUGE. This is such an awesome part of Christianity. It brings hope. It brings encouragement. It brings faith. It brings life. It brings freedom. And, it brings celebration.

As Easter approaches, let these Bible verses open your heart and lift your eyes.

Job 19:25 

"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last."

Isaiah 53:5 

"But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed."

Isaiah 25:8  

"He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The Lord has spoken!

Isaiah 26:19  

"But those who die in the Lord will live: their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!"

Acts 3:15  

"You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!"

Mark 16:6  

"...but the angel said, "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body!"

Luke 4:38-39  

"Why are you frightened? he asked. Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it's really me..."

1 Corinthians 5:3-6  

"...Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time..."

Philippians 3:10-11 

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"

And the best news...

1 Corinthians 6:14  

"And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead."  

Well, there you have it, folks - scripture to swell your soul. Indulge in it and watch what happens!

Happy Easter! 💓

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Feeling less than? You don't have to.

Life is a mixture of calm, peaceful moments and chaotic uproars. Just when you arrive and have smooth ground underneath your feet, you come...