Monday, March 14, 2016

Resident tourists

What a weekend! We had my family in town and my partner's family. We even had to rent a bigger car just to be able to spend time together as we drove (and drove, and drove) to all of the "touristy" destinations in our area!! It seems like we went non-stop. 

We went by the pier - 

We saw a huge starfish (you've gotta look closely... )


We visited the infamous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach... 

We went to the beach...



We had a bbq, we drove by old neighborhoods, we went for scenic drives down Worth Ave in Palm Beach (window shopping only, of course)


We did all things tourist. Things that we don't get too excited about here (sans beach and pier) but to non-Floridian folk, it seems to be a thrill.

My FAVORITE part... besides the company, of course... was definitely seeing the sunrise at the beach. It was the most peaceful time of my long weekend. The crashing of the waves, the salty air, the feel of the ocean breeze blowing through your hair... magical moments filled with pure calmness. We collected seashells and watched the sun peek over the horizon... I felt the presence of God so strongly with us on the beach that morning. 

The sunrise is always a beautiful reminder. It reminds us that each day is a new day and a fresh opportunity. It reminds us that, despite all of the ugliness in the world, there is a still beauty. It reminds us that the simple sound of the ocean waves can drown out any other noise in the world. It reminds us that we are not as big as we think we are -- that there is something much, much mightier than us. It reminds us that all of the hurt, tiredness, pain, sadness, negativity from yesterday has been washed away. 


Most importantly, it reminds us that we all need a moment to BE STILL ... and Listen. We cannot always hear God when we have too many distractions around us and even though the sounds of the ocean can fill your ears, it is amazing what you may hear. It is only in these moments that you can truly "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him..." Psalm 37:7 (ESV). 

And then I started thinking... why is it that we don't do this more often? After all, we are not tourists (though we play really good ones)... we LIVE here. We let our lives get so busy all of the time. If we can make time to get 100's of things accomplished each week, why cant we take an hour on a weekend morning to come to the beach, plop in the sand and watch God's magic unfold? 

God knows when you are waiting for him. "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14 (NIV). Make sure you find your favorite quiet spot this week. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Who steers your sails?


You know that dog who keeps chasing his tail, never to catch it, but still continues to run in a circle trying? Sometimes, when it comes to worrying, I feel like I am that dog. Cute, of course. But cute with some questionable behavior! 


I mean, we all know already that God has us in his hands. We know that we are supposed to give up our cares and worries to him. But, its not so easy, is it? IS IT?!

See, even right now... as I write this blog... it has me worrying that I worry too much. I've always been a worry wart. Personally, I think it was ingrained in me from childhood. My handsome dad... he was a worry wart, too. Therefore I am going to go with the idea that worrying is a genetic trait. Right? Right!

As a kid, I remember going on vacations -- back when families actually took road trips together. We would get a couple hours into our trip and my dad would have a momentary bout of worry. Id be half asleep in the backseat and I would hear him ask my mom, "Did we turn all the fans off?" or "Are you sure that sliding glass door was locked?" or, my favorite, "Dang it, I think forgot to take the garbage out!"  If he didn't get the desired responses, he would silently beat himself up for not checking the fans or the door locks one last time, or for not taking the garbage out. How do I know he silently did this? Because about 2 days later he would, out of nowhere, say, "I cannot believe I didn't check to make sure those fans were turned off."

This continued throughout my life. I always appeared to be the unstable child who made him worry. Whether it was in my teens, finding my way in my 20's, or finally calming down in my mid-30s. It was a long, sketchy, winding, bumpy road, that I wont deny. And he worried. All the time. He would bring up something that I said or did two weeks ago. Why? Because he had been worrying about it the whole time. I would get frustrated with his constant focus on a worrisome topic and, at one point, he told me "I just cant talk to you because I always make you upset." (The reason? Part of me got annoyed sometimes that he worried over menial things. Who wants to keep being reminded about something they are trying to forget? The bigger, quiet part of me got mad at myself for making him worry... Yet, I did it time and again. I was upset with myself, not him. But, oh, how I wish I could take those days back now. I would listen to him talk all day. And all night. Anything he wanted to say. But, that is a story for another time.)

Back on point... 

But, I think we butted heads so much because we are so much alike. In many ways... including... you guessed it... worrying. Yep, me. Guilty as charged. And, I am sure that I drive more than one person in my life crazy with it. But, hey, you cant mess with genetics!

Ok, ok, I will let the genetics assumption rest because, in reality, it doesn't matter where it comes from. Nobody should worry. Nobody should have a care or concern in the world. Why? Because we should be casting our cares on God -- Psalm 55:22 (NLT) says "Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." Or how about 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT),  "Give all your worries or cares to God, for he cares about you."

It doesn't matter what you did or shouldn't have done or what is going to happen at work tomorrow or who is going to be at the party tonight. It doesn't matter. Plain and simple. Those are trivial little things (to be followed with a "#firstworldproblems" on social media nowadays) and they don't change any situation. They are worries that serve no great purpose or benefit. 

I just realized that I am really just saying all of this for myself... because God knows, really, that this is one of my biggest flaws. I also just realized that I wish my dad had found peace in this to calm his worrying heart. 

Remember the birds in Matthew? Come on, I know you have read it. Maybe even a dozen times... 

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the Pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 

Look at that last line - Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. I mean, that is straight from the mouth of Jesus, so, uh... yeah. And I don't think it can get any clearer than that. 

Remember -- God looks out for us. He has our back. He knows what we need before we even know. Or, rather, before we even have time to worry about it. Let this be a reminder - for you and me both - to HAVE FAITH that someone more powerful than you is steering your sails and there isn't a thing that worrying will change. 


PRAY MORE, WORRY LESS.

Boom.






Friday, March 4, 2016

Crave

Do you ever have cravings? Sure ya do. Some people crave alone time, some people crave thrills and adrenaline rushes, and yet others crave ice cream. Do you ever crave God? I do. To be honest, I have been craving Him quite a bit lately. 

We go about our lives - the hustle and bustle that it brings. We have work, family, miscellaneous daily teenage crises that need tended to, we have traffic delays, dinner to cook, bills to pay. And when it comes time to go to bed at night... I am completely spent. I mean, some nights I don't even remember closing my eyes. 

Then, as I wake up the next morning and begin to start the routine all over (thinking Groundhog Day here)... I just feel like something is missing. Again and again. I have felt this way for a couple months and, if I am going to be completely honest, it has taken me a little while to place my finger on exactly what it is. 

GOD = my missing piece


Do I really spend my life running around doing all of these menial things when I forget to spend time with the one who put me here in the first place? I guess I do. 

In my defense, haha, once I came to this realization, I had a long talk with Him. More like a ramble, but hey... at least I was present for my meeting. The best thing happened afterwards, too -- I immediately started feeling the warmth and calm He gives!! It was also during this time that I realized its not just the missing connection with God, but also my church, that I have been missing. 

See, on my journey, I have learned that the way I have grown on my path is drastically different from the friends that I have. My partner and I have talked about this many times... we feel like no one can really relate to us anymore. In all fairness, we cannot relate to them, either. It is as if our faith and our beliefs have turned us into odd ducks. Or beautiful swans. However you want to look at it. Either way, we stand apart from almost everyone we know. 

But then, last night, I walk into a home full of people from my church. The love that bounces off of these folks is tremendous. They hadn't even seen me in a couple of months and I felt like no time at all had passed. The hugs, the smiles, the laughs, the support. It was all the same. I had forgotten how much joy and love I feel when surrounded by them. I've missed them, too. 


So all of this lead me to ask myself... When life gets rough and busy, why do I hide from the very people that make me feel the most peace? Why do I let myself get pulled into any other direction other then where I want to be? Why do I always have such a hard time keeping God first in my life? And, why oh why, God, must I ask myself so many questions?!?!

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Anyways, I am glad to have re-discovered the elixir that will quench my cravings. I want to really work toward keeping God first in my life and let all of my other daily tasks follow as runners-up... especially when life gets difficult. I am putting this out there in case there is a small chance it will work for accountability. Thank you! And.. I love you all!