Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Question "Why?" and Throwing Stones.

No, I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth.  No, I haven't stopped doing my devotions.   Yes, I have forgotten to blog.  But I'm back due to some recent inspiration.

A couple of days ago my challenge was as follows: Today I will remember that my only hope is in you and that you are with me always.  

Sheila put the obvious and factual but somewhat uncomfortable statement out there: "Job never received an answer to his first question - 'Why?'"  I stopped.  No, no he didn't.  But that is the question I ask myself every time I start over-thinking or dwelling on the past.  Why?  Why then?  Why me?  Why?  Why?  Why?  But if Job never got an answer...well then God certainly isn't going to answer my why.  Well *Humph.*  Ugh.  ...Then Sheila continues..."But Job did gain the new understanding that his only hope was in God."  THERE!  That is what I'm supposed to get out of only hope is in God.  In the end it doesn't matter why - all that matters is God is STILL there, He is right by my side!  Sheila used Psalm 139:7-10 to convey His everlasting presence:
                    Where can I go from Your Spirit?
                          Or where can I flee from your presence?
                    If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
                          If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
                   If I take the wings of the morning,
                         And dwell in the uttermost part of the sea,
                   Even there Your hand shall lead me,
                        And your right hand shall hold me.

At first glance you might be thinking...okay???  But this passage gives me such hope! No matter what I do - if I mess up, He's still there.  If I'm on my A game, He's still there!  If I'm all alone and I can't seem to understand why....He is still there.  You would think the devotion itself would have been enough for the day but God wasn't done with me yet.  I started my daily Scripture reading.  On this day I read about Stephen the martyr.  Stephen was doing everything right - He was telling the world about our wonderful savior but the people were unhappy and decided to stone him to death!  But do you know what he did in response?  He asked God to not hold this sin against them!?!  Stephen never even thought to throw a stone back - figuratively or literally.  I read this and thought to myself - "If only I could be so good..."

So what did I learn on this day?  First, I'm not going to get an answer to the never-ending "why?"  But that doesn't mean I should be figuratively throwing stones at anyone.  It means that I need to literally rest in knowing that God is by my side constantly.  He will never, EVER leave me.  And that gives me all the hope in the world.  At the end of today I am thankful for His undying love for me.  I am thankful that because of Him I have everlasting hope.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't have something to look forward to. It's exhilirating!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why? How? Who? ... Um.... What?

Yep...I got sick and fell off the wagon again.  It is amazing how just a couple of days out can mess up your entire schedule....Ugh.  Tryin to get back on track here...

Day 25 - Today I will choose to believe that You are faithful and that you use hard times to make me more like Jesus.

Sheila Walsh prompted me to start thinking when she asked me what questions I ask God during the hard times.  The fall back for me and I'm sure most of us is the infamous question of "why?"  Why me?  Why now?  Why this?  Why did it have to happen this way?  Why can't You just fix it?  And I'm sure we could come up with a million more 'whys.'  As I stopped to think about this, I reflected on the challenge - He uses the hard times to make me more like Jesus.  Maybe I'm asking the wrong question.  Maybe instead of 'why' I should be asking 'how.'  How can I be like Christ in this situation?  (I know, I know....back to the whole WWJD thing...).  After all, that, if nothing else, is what we should gain from hard situations - becoming more like Christ.  Sheila notes that she is on a personal campaign to always refer to Romans 8:28-29 together, not separately.  I think she makes a good point: "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  For (aka because) God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son."

Day 26 - Today I will be totally honest with You when I come to You in prayer.

Not always easy to do.  But I have tried today.  The one thing I got from my devotion this morning is this: Prayer must be intimate!  Or the relationship isn't real...  For that reason I am trying my best, no matter how humbling, to be honest when I talk with Him.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

Day 24 - Today help me to read your Word from a different perspective: I want to see your love on every page.

Sheila Walsh notes how often stories in the Bible are about the love of God - from Mary the mother of Jesus to the thieves on the cross.  Today, my Scripture reading was from Matthew 27 and Mark 15 (reading chronologically).  Both chapters cover the initial happenings of the crucifixion - from Jesus being taken before Pilate to Joseph of Arimethia putting Christ's body in the tomb.  The love that is apparent in these chapters is unfathomable!  He endured all of the abuse (verbal and physical), the torment, the humiliation...all for the sake of love.  At any time He had the power to stop it all right at His fingerprints.  The man wasn't even guilty and He didn't even try to defend Himself!  He allowed it all, He endured it all, because of His love for us...because of His love for me!

I'm hoping I can keep this perspective when I read Scripture from now on.  The Bible is the greatest love story ever.  Why don't I remember that when I read it?  I'm going to try to.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Power from Awareness

Day 23 - Today I will be still so that I can be aware of your presence with me.

Impatience reared its ugly head again today.  But this time it was different.  I remembered yesterday and I took a moment to just stop and think.  Then I asked for the patience that was readily available for me.  Patience is a fruit of the Spirit.  And I have the Spirit - He is always, always with me.  So if I have the Spirit, I have patience.  The day went much easier after that realization.  Most of the time I'm just too busy to take a moment and realize that God is right here with me.  He is with me in the morning while I'm doing the dishes or dusting the furniture. He is with me when I have four screaming babies or 6 crying toddlers (or both!).  He is with me while I'm making dinner and waiting for Justin to get home.  He is with me...I just have to take the time to be aware...

Short and sweet.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Painful Healing, Truth, & Impatience

After a crazy week of sick coworkers and then sick me...I'm trying to get back on track.  Here we go!

Day 20 - Today I will take my wounds to Calvary.

Sunday was such a good for this challenge!  The service on Sunday included communion...which was a very good way for me to envision taking my wounds to Calvary.  Sometimes it isn't easy to be healed - having a bone set is rather painful, getting stitches - also painful, surgery - well that can be painful for awhile, and even with a small cut, it hurts to have the band-aid removed.  It seems that when there are injuries, pain comes right along with the healing process.  And that makes taking my wounds, whether self-inflicted or placed there by someone, a little difficult to take to Calvary.  Am I really prepared to face that pain?  Am I strong enough to survive it?  The questions that this devotion asked led me to a very interesting conclusion.  Guys LOVE to talk about how they got scars, they love to tell the story behind them!  Our wounds leave scars and scars mean stories.  It is completely up to us whether that story is one of destruction and defeat or one of beauty and victory.  I want my scars to be a beautiful story...and that is why during communion, I took them to Calvary and laid them at the foot of the cross.  God's mercy will heal my wounds (and yes, it will probably be a little painful) and the scars that are left behind will tell the story of Christ's mercy and grace and His awesome, awesome victory!

Day 21 - Today I will reaffirm my trust in the truth that you are my Deliverer.

I honestly didn't think much about this throughout the day yesterday.  But I think that after Sunday's challenge, I can rest assured in the truth that He truly is my deliverer.  And He will deliver me from my pain.

Day 22 - Today I will turn to you when emotions threaten to make me lose control.

I, again, didn't do so great with this challenge.  I completely forgot about it until about a half hour before my shift ended when I realized just how impatient I was today.  Sometimes working with 14 kids under the age of 2 can be a little stressful.  And trust me, a few of those kids really know how to test my patience.  I was talking to another teacher about how a particular couple of kids really drive me crazy sometimes and that I just didn't have the patience to deal with it.  And then my challenge hit me in the face.  "Bri!  You totally lost control today...and didn't even think twice."  And then I was a little more patient with that one child...  I just wish I could be a little more conscious of my emotions throughout the day.  *sigh*

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Day 19 - Today I will thank you for your love when I'm tempted to ask for answers instead.

The question "why?" is on the tip of our tongues whenever things get ugly.  I often wonder why certain things happen to me.  Why did I have to suffer with an undiagnosed health issue for so long?  Why did bad things happen during what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of my life?  Why me?  But that isn't what these answers are about.  This is more of the big stuff.  Why is their suffering?  Why is their evil?  I read this devotion this morning and couldn't think of something in my life where I needed to ask the bigger "why?"  But, again, I was looking to close to myself.

We were watching an episode of Bones tonight.  The investigation centered around a few soldiers who had spent some time in Iraq.  It turned out they had tried to cover up some friendly fire and the accidental murder of an Iraqi family (they thought they were insurgents).  The situation got Justin and I talking of the reality of those possibilities.  Our guys deal with enough without having to deal with friendly fire and killing innocent people.  Justin and I both know a few people who have served time in Iraq/Afghanistan and the things they have seen, the things they have dealt with...those things can't be erased from memory.  We came around to the subject of children, children are taught to fight in Iraq.  What does a soldier do when faced with a child aiming an AK-47 right at them?  It's a kill or be killed situation.  And it isn't fair.  I started to cry...children!  And it isn't just Iraq - I have read horror stories about children in Africa who had to kill their own families in brutal ways as their forced initiation into an army.  For a brief moment I let the thought cross my mind - Why God?  Why is this kind of thing allowed to go on?  Why are people so evil?  And then I stopped...No, I'm supposed to thank God for His love.  And I did.  "Thank you Lord for your love.  Without it, those children would have no hope.  Without Your love evil would triumph..."

I think I heard it said somewhere that faith isn't about dealing with the answers, it's about living with the questions.  And I can live with those questions when I know that God's love has prevailed, is prevailing now, and will ultimately prevail in the end.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dilemmas, Dilemmas

Day 18 - Today I will try to be aware of ways I'm still trying to earn your love.  I want to learn to rest in your grace.

Rest.  Does anyone in America truly know what that word means?  I'm not sure I do.  Even when I'm "resting,"  at the very least I'm making a to-do list in my head.  We are continually going, non-stop, all day long.  There are some days I wake up, get ready for work, do the dishes, update the budget, pack my lunch, vacuum, go to work, come home for my "break" which means unloading the dishwasher and putting away the dishes I did in the morning as well as writing out a few checks, then it's back to work, take laundry to laundromat, get home, clean up some clutter, go switch laundry to dryer, go back home, start dinner, go pick up laundry, finish dinner, fold laundry, eat dinner, start the grocery list/menu for the next couple of weeks, research moving companies, balance checkbook, go to bed...  The insanity is that I do this all of the time.  It isn't very often where I just sit in front of the TV and do nothing (and I'm sure this goes for many, MANY other people).  I always have to be busy.  My mind doesn't have a pause button.  In other words, I don't know what rest means.  This brings us to my first dilemma - how am I supposed to rest in God's grace if I don't know what resting even looks like?

Second dilemma - as Sheila Walsh notes, we (human beings) feel that we need to contribute in some way to anything that we receive.  We are receiving God's love, abundantly I might add, so we feel as if we need to contribute.  This looks different for each person - it may mean giving tithe and then some.  Or maybe it's spending every Saturday at the homeless shelter.  Or giving up something for lent.  Or, in my case, trying to maintain a picture of perfection.  Yes, I said it.  I am a perfectionist.  I want the vision people see of me to be a perfect one.  I don't want people to see me mess up, I don't want God to see me mess up.  But the fact of the matter is - I'm not perfect, I can't be perfect.  And if I think I can earn God's love through perfection, well then, I'm never going to earn it.

Yet then again...that's the whole point.  I can't earn God's love.  I already have it.  I have to stop trying to be perfect in order to earn His love.  If I mess up, from a simple slip to a huge mess, He is still going to love me because His love and my perfection are not connected.

So, in order to resolve my two dilemmas I have to simply let go.  I have to let go of this ideal of isn't going to happen on this earth.  And if I'm not trying so hard to be perfect (the perfect employee, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect friend...) then maybe I can sit back and actually rest for once.  Wait, what does that mean again??  : )  Just kidding.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of your grace.  It brings me joy and peace in knowing that I don't have do anything in order to earn it, I don't even have to lift a finger!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Day 17 - Today I will embrace my identity as a follower, a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I had this horrible gut feeling this morning as I read through my devotions that there isn't much in my life that visibly points to my identity as a disciple of Christ.  Yeah, I'm a fairly loving individual but so are a lot of other people...people that aren't disicples of Christ.  I vowed this morning to change that.

But once I got back into the craziness of work - 4 babies, 10 kiddos between the ages of 12 months and 20 months, and about 20 different problems...I forgot all about what I read this morning.  As I came home I took a  few minutes to relax before starting dinner...when I realized that I had again put my Christianity on the back burner.  It was then that I asked myself the question - what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?  It means to walk in His very footsteps.  Since I cannot physically do that without having a physical presence, what does that mean for me in the modern world?  It means to be like Him.  To do what He did, what He would have done.  I know it sounds cliche but what would Jesus do?  He definitely wouldn't talk to a co-worker about how another co-worker has seriously annoyed you.  He would try to understand what the underlying cause was in why the co-worker was annoying in the first place (aka...He wouldn't get annoyed).  He would have a better attitude about coming home to make dinner after a long stressful day at work.

I am supposed to be learning from a disciple.  The one thing I did do right today was read His word.  I read from John about remaining on the vine in order to bear fruit...(15:1-6).  God was definitely reiterating what I had read that morning.  I have to remain in Christ, I have to follow Him.  Obviously easier said than done.  But I'm ready to face tomorrow with the question on my mind: what would Jesus do?  I need to look to His example in all that I do, all that I say.  Maybe then people will be able to SEE that I am following in His footsteps.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All at Once Heads are Spinning...

Day 16 - Today I will meditate on your amazing, infinite, and unconditional love for me.

So the whole meditation thing didn't happen.  With only so many hours in the day and so many things to do I, unfortunately, tend to put meditation and quiet time on the back burner.  This is where the honesty things gets a little tough.  My priorities aren't always where they need to be.  As much as I want to and as much as I need to, time spent listening to God doesn't usually make the priority list.  I find it easy to make time during the day to read my devotional and the Bible at least once a day, if not twice...but it is VERY hard for me to just listen or meditate.  I can't sit still for more than 2 seconds (ask Justin, he says it is my most annoying habit).

However, I did spend some time in thought today among all of my business.  God loves me!  No matter what I've done, no matter what I do - He still loves me!  That love never wanes, never falters.  Through all of my ups and downs, my good days and my bad, He loves me relentlessly!  I know I relate a lot of things to songs but music has such a passion.  It brings real emotion to the surface.  Music is all throughout the is beautiful, powerful, and speaks to so many people in so many different ways.  Anywho...two songs come to mind.  First, "You Love Me Anyway" by the Sidewalk Prophets.  The chorus speaks of how we mess up but God loves us anyway - "But you love me anyway/ It's like nothing in life that I've ever known."  The full song can be found here.  Second - "Hurricane" by Samestate.  I just recently started hearing this on the radio and I absolutely love it!  God's love doesn't make any sense!  We haven't done a single thing to deserve it!  And the crazy thing - love still came!  Every time I hear this song I'm lost in awe at how wonderfully amazing God really is.  The lyrics to "Hurricane" can be found here and the song can be found here.

I hope for the few people that actually read this you take some time to ponder the awesome relentless love of Christ.  You may not deserve it, none of us do, but He loves you anyway!  Nothing you can do will ever, ever, EVER change that!  Isn't it wonderful??  I can't quit smiling if I truly focus on that fact!  :D

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I will...

Day 15 - Today I will choose to be open with a trusted fellow believer about one of my failures or weaknesses and let God minister to me through that person.

I knew this morning when I read this that I wasn't going to see very many people that this would include.  Yeah, my boss and one of the girls at work...but today was pretty time for serious conversation (which is pretty usual).  I thought about calling my mom or dad but phone conversations of that matter aren't as easy as talking to someone in person.  The obvious choice, even from the beginning, is my wonderful hubby.  But the fact of the matter is that my failure, my weakness, like I've mentioned before, is my lack of forgiveness.  And Justin doesn't exactly enjoy talking about that situation.

But I did mention it.  Before we started another episode of Bones on Netlfix, I mentioned that I needed to blog but that I hadn't done what I was supposed to which was talk to someone.  And then I continued to talk to him.  He didn't get upset or irritated at all.  You see, he also tends to struggle with the same thing.  He reminded me that we are supposed to support each other in our weaknesses.  God gave us each other for that purpose.  So not only does God have my back, Justin does too!  I can do this!  And as Justin reminded me, it is a process.  I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and completely forgive everyone for everything they've done...but if I continue to make a conscious choice, it will eventually become a habit, a truth.  I will forgive.

Sidenote - I am so very thankful for a husband who has been with me through some pretty hard times already.  Though he may get frustrated at moments, he has my back.  He would go to the end of the earth for me!  Every time I hear the song God Gave Me You, I get that giddy, girly grin.  I moved 1200 miles away and somehow God still gave me a wonderful, amazing man from home.  He knew just what I needed...even when I didn't.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Energizer Bunny

So yeah...I really slacked off this past week...or so...  *sigh*   I did just a couple of devos and exactly no blogs.  But I'm hoping to get back on track....with each of the aforementioned.

Day 14 - Today I will take another step toward forgiving someone I've struggled to forgive.

Apparently God is really wanting to work on this forgiveness thing with me...because it is probably the biggest struggle I have right now.  I do have to say, the bitterness is beginning to subside.  For that, I am much happier....literally.  Have you ever had that shirt where the tag just bugs the back of your neck all day long?  You scratch, you adjust, you do anything you can think of but it still just irritates the heck out of you?  Getting rid of bitterness is like getting rid of that tag!

Unfortunately, just because I'm not bitter does not mean that I have forgiven.  Through reading this devotion this morning I realized what is holding me back - I want justice.  But as Sheila Walsh puts it, "When we forgive...We realize that we won't find justice in this world - it doesn't live here."  I may not feel like forgiving because I don't think its fair.  Well guess what folks, as our parents have continually told us, "Life isn't fair!"  Forgiveness isn't a feeling, it's a choice.  But, oh, what a choice that is!  It isn't just a one time thing.  Choosing to forgive is a daily choice.  Yes, I have forgiven today...but tomorrow, when all of those hurtful thoughts and feelings resurface I have to choose to forgive again...and again...and again.

Today, I choose to forgive.  And hopefully tomorrow...and the next day...and the next day...and the next day...

Well, you get the point  : )

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Passenger's Seat Anyone?

Day 13 - Today I will, by your grace, be aware of when I'm tempted to take the easy way out or to take a situation into my own hands and, by doing either, turn away from you.

Fortunately, unlike many days in my life, today was not a very tempting day.  I'm almost 100% sure I was never tempted to take the easy way out or take a situation into my own hands.  But I did have a few moments to reflect on times when I have taken the easy way out and when I have tried to take a situation into my own hands.  It never turns out very pretty.  Sheila Walsh puts it best, "...when we take things into our own hands, we lose the opportunity to allow God to work on our behalf for the greater good" (40).  Why do we try to do things on our own when God will take care of things for us?!?!  God?  No contest!  He can do such a better job than I can.  If I had just let Him handle the situation in which I took over or when I decided to take the easy way out things would be much different.  At most I would have a completely different life or at the very least I would have learned a good lesson or two.  But in the end I have learned a lesson today after all...stop taking the easy way out and stop trying to take control!  God can handle my life much better than I can...I am so very ready to take the passenger's seat for a change.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Amazing Grace

Day 12 - Today I will extend to others the grace Jesus himself has shown me, looking beyond the outer shell to the heart within.

Extending grace to other is pretty easy when all is fine and dandy.  But it isn't easy when people are harsh, rude, unfriendly, or hurtful.  I've been hurt a lot in the past...and it isn't easy for me to extend grace to those that have hurt me.  Today I tried, in a small way.  I didn't get anything in return but today I looked at things differently - I didn't expect anything in return.  That isn't what grace is about.  Grace is giving freely without expecting anything in return.  Christ knew that the gift of His grace was going to hurt, literally hurt, but He did it anyhow!  I've received His grace now it's my turn to give it to others!  I have to look at people through His eyes instead of my own.  I wish I were able to do it more often but sometimes I boldly pray - "Lord, help me to love them as You love them, help me to see them as You see them"...I'm making it a point to pray that everyday!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Land of 1,000 Mistakes

Day 10 - Brief pause here to celebrate 10 days!!  I'm so excited about this mile marker.  No, I haven't blogged everyday but I have done my devotions everyday...and, if I can say so myself, that is a bit more important.  And even so, I have been much more consistent in my blog...I think I've already doubled my entries. lol.

So...back to the challenges

Day 10  - Today I will ask you to show me an opportunity to be a good Samaritan!

This was actually Saturday's challenge but I ended up home sick with a stomach ache and eventual severe headache.  Ugh.  Seeing that the couch didn't really need a Samaritan, there wasn't an opportunity that really presented itself...  So Sunday it was.  And Sunday picked up Saturday's neglected chores.  AKA - grocery shopping.  My opportunity to be a good Samaritan was nothing major.  While we were at checkout I simply let the woman in line behind us go ahead of us.  It added a few minutes of time to our day but nothing major.  I do hope that what I learned this weekend was to keep a better eye out.  I tend to miss simple opportunities to help someone else out because I'm too preoccupied in the business of my own life.  The truth of the matter is that we should never be too busy, or tired, for God's work...simply doing the right thing when the opportunity presents itself.  I'm going to be watching for those a hawk!

Day 11 - Today I will choose to trust You rather than fear the very real things there are to fear in this fallen world.

Rejection is real.  And I fear rejection like my brother fears an empty refrigerator.  When I read that statement this morning I didn't think I had any "real" fears.  I thought all of my fears were either conquered or unrealistic.  But throughout the day I really thought about it.  Rejection could come from many places - work, friends, families, etc.  But I can trust God to get me through that rejection.  He can give me the strength that I need to face that rejection head on.  While I was facing this fear head on today, admitting that it was there, God reminded me of the last few days of challenges.  Who am I in Christ?!?!  What does it matter if my friends reject me?  Or if someone at work rejects me?  Christ will never reject me!  Never!  And in Him I am a princess, I am relentlessly loved, I am "the apple of His eye" (Psalm 17:8).  Nothing can change that - not a bad hair day, not a forgotten phone call, not 1,000 mistakes.  He will always be there...just like my shadow (even when I can't see it, that shadow is still there!).

Friday, August 26, 2011

I May Not Have the Castle...

Yep, I've been slacking a bit...but fortunately not in my devos.  I would much rather forget a blog or two than a devo or two.  All that means now is that I have 3 days worth of challenges to write about.  And lucky for me again, they are all pretty related and go hand in hand quite well!

Day 7 - Today I will remember who I am in Christ.

Simple.  Well, simply said anyhow.  There are times when I feel like I'm a nobody.  I feel unnoticed, as if I disappeared today, no one would even notice tomorrow.  But that simply isn't the case.  Because of Christ I am a somebody!  I will never go unnoticed.  I am loved and cherished beyond my own comprehension...and no one can take that away from me!  Fact of the matter is, however, that this isn't easy to remember when things get tough.  But if I can remind myself of this every morning, life will be a little bit easier, if only just a smidgen...

Day 8 - Today I will be your student, listening for You to show me when I've mentally and emotionally crossed over from healthy guilt to destructive shame.

Because of who I am in Him, nothing that I do can ever make Him love me less, or for that matter, more!  He loves me relentlessly and that will never change.  There is no need to beat myself up over something if I've already "given" it to God.  I definitely struggle with this.  The whole forgiving yourself thing has already been discussed but this is pretty much the same idea.  Guilt is there for a purpose.  I need to repent and ask forgiveness for all that I've done wrong.  But then....(wait for it)....I have to let it go!  I can't dwell in it and continue to hit my head against the wall.  If I've given it to God, He has already forgotten it...why bring it back up?

Day 9 - Today I will savor the fact that I am Your daughter, a princess in the family of the King of kings.

This devotion also focused on getting out of the past (is Sheila Walsh hiding in my frontal lobe or what??).  She referred to it in this instance as "looking at life in the rearview mirror" which can cause some major wrecks or, at the very least, a few fender-benders.    I've definitely had a few of those fender-benders.  I spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirrors and I forget to look at whats right in front of has not only hurt me but a few others as well.  But if I truly savor in the fact that I am the daughter of the King of kings, I can move forward.  Because I am His daughter, there is always joy.  Why look behind me when He lies ahead?  I am a princess and my destiny awaits!  : )

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Innocence of Children

Day 6 - Today I will slow down enough to notice your fingerprints on your amazing creation.

During nap time at work today I kept thinking, how can I notice creation when I'm inside all day?  And there's no way I'm going outside after work...not in this ridiculous, break-a-million-records heat...and then, like usual, the light bulb came on.  His creation is all around me, all those little hands and feet, all those tiny smiles and itty-bitty giggles...He created each one of those beautiful children.

They are all so different...such individuals.  Even the set of twins in my class have their own personalities.  Kenzie can't live without her blanket and Addie loves the little babies.  Yet He formed each and every one of them and knows how many hairs are on Ian's head or Teagan's head...He gave them the ability to grow and learn so quickly.  Just this week little Evalyn forgot a little bit of her stubbornness and started signing "please."  But the true beauty is that these little ones represent the innocence of creation.  They haven't been exposed to all the evil of the world...they just want love!  Why does it break my heart when a little one learns to bite or hit?  Because a little piece of that innocence has just gone down the drain. But then they give each other a hug and a wet, sloppy kiss and it's as if none of it ever happened, their amazing love shines through!  God's original creation can be seen in this children...He has left His fingerprints on them so that we can see what true innocence really looks like.

I love each and everyone of those children!  They are a blessing for my everyday!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jesus is a Friend of Mine

Very glad I decided to wait and blog until tonight!  The past two challenges are very related...

Day 4 - Today I will consider what it means that You are my friend.
Day 5 - Today I will focus on being Your friend.

The most important thing I think I realized in the past two days is that God isn't just a friend, He's the perfect friend.  He won't leave your side when things get tough.  He will forgive you for anything you do wrong and love you just the same as He did before.  He will be there to remind you of how you need to improve but love you through all of your imperfections.  He can't mess up!

I ran into a bit of a mess yesterday - a great big brick wall of hurt.  For a moment I wanted to ask God why He was letting this happen, why He wasn't stopping it all, why He wasn't there?  And then I remembered what my challenge was for the day - What does it mean that He is my friend?  It means that He is there! He is right by my side, holding my hand, offering His shoulder for my tears.  And He won't ever, ever  leave me!    I can't blame Him for my problems anymore...He is the one who helps me through it all!  My problems would be my destruction if it were not for Him.

So what does it mean for me to be His friend?  It means never leaving His side.  So what does that look like? I can't hang Christ up like a coat when I walk into a room (whether it be work, the mall, or class), I can't throw Him in the trunk while I'm driving.  It means spending time with Him consistently...and being honest with Him (*ouch* that can be a tough one sometimes).  It means actually talking to Him every day and listening to what He has to say...  Friendship isn't easy, but it is so, so worth it!  His friendship is immeasurable, unfathomable, irreplaceable...

So in closing, I proudly say that yes, Jesus is a Friend of Mine.  : )  hehe

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Day 3 - Today I will remember that my failure to forgive myself is a prideful choice to not receive your grace.

*ouch*  That statement really cuts deep.  I didn't even have to think about it for more than half a second - guilty as charged.  But then I started to justify myself.  My guilty feelings, my lack of forgiveness for myself...that isn't my pride.  I'm allowed to feel guilty!  And then I read that again, out loud, - "my failure to forgive myself is a prideful choice to not receive your grace."  *ouch*  Yep, no matter how many times I read it or say it, I can't make the ring of truth go away...

Once God forgives us (which is immediately after we ask) we have to forgive ourselves.  If we don't "we have made the court of our opinion more powerful than the court of our holy and just God" (Walsh 20).  This definitely made me think a little bit harder of all the feelings I've been harboring.  It seems like forgiveness has come up a lot.  I'm not sure if forgiving others or forgiving myself is going to be harder...all I know is the road ahead is going to be a little bumpy.  But I'm willing and ready to face it all...  In closing, I'd like to mention the quote that popped to my mind when I mentioned a bumpy road.

"There are potholes on the road less traveled.  Some deep, some not so deep, some you dig yourself.  Most are filled with mud.  Many contain rocks.  Once in awhile, however, you'll be walking along and step in one a bit more accommodating...shabby, green, and pulsing with life.  It'll tickle your feet, like clover" (from the novel Flabbergasted).  
What hope!

Friday, August 19, 2011

At the Root of the Matter

Day 2 - Today I will let your light shine into my hidden places.

This morning I read this challenge and thought my blog was going to be quite boring this evening.  I didn't think I had anything to hide from God.  But I realized He has been working on a certain area this whole week, I just hadn't been able to admit it to Him (interesting how He knows my secrets before I do...).  I have been holding back forgiveness which has led to bitterness and could very quickly lead to hatred.  I reread the devotion when I got home from work this afternoon and the concluding verse really stuck out to me - "The Lord says, "Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past.  Look at the new thing I am going to do.  It is already happening.  Don't you see it?"  - Isaiah 43:18-19 (NCV)

My lack of forgiveness, my holding on to the past, has me stuck in a place I shouldn't be.  I can't be happy with the present, I can't look forward to the future, because a very big part of me is still very much stuck in the past.  This realization didn't just hit me today though.  It's kind of like watching a mosquito bite your skin - sometimes you can't help but watch in amusement, wondering how it all really works...but what you can't see is the poison that is entering your blood...yeah, it may just cause an itch...but that poison could carry malaria or some other deathly disease.  My lack of forgiveness was comfortable.  I knew it wasn't good for me, that it would probably cause an irritating itch of bitterness but I never really thought of the potential outcome.  What if that irritating itch turned to hatred?

We watched the movie Defiance tonight.  It tells the true life story of a forest camp of Jews during WWII...choosing starvation and bitter cold over death camps.  My heart is especially broken at the cruelty and unfairness of this world and movies such as this throw my emotions for a loop.  I was in tears at all of the hatred that caused such situations.  One man had so much hatred in his heart that he created the genocide of an entire race of people.  How could this happen?  And then it hit me.  That's the difference - God is love.  Love creates.  Hatred destroys.

It was like a slap in the face.  At what point would my bitterness grow to hatred?  But wait...if bitterness is the seed of hatred, hasn't destruction already begun?  Hasn't it already been planted?  I have to do something about this.  I know that forgiveness is not an easy task but I know that it is essential.  I cannot be forgiven unless I first forgive (Mark 11:25-26) and I have made too many mistakes to count.  I must stop the destruction and return to the root of all creation - love.

As noted, it won't be an easy process...and it is quite scary.  Matthew West recently came out with a song called Strong Enough.  It has been very encouraging and I know now that, for me, this song was meant for such a time as this.  (Find song and lyrics here.)  I'm not strong enough to do this on my own but He can be strong enough for the both of us!

"Look at the new thing I am going to do.  It is already happening.  Don't you see it?"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good Morning Lord!

I've stumbled across a few dilemmas lately.  First of all, I want to blog...but I can't get motivated.  I've come to the conclusion that this may be because I don't have a theme for my blog.  My second dilemma of late is that I start devotionals or Scripture reading plans and stop half way through because I'm burnt out.  But now...I've found the solution.  Recently I began a devotional by Sheila Walsh entitled "Good Morning Lord."  Each day is basically started with a sort of challenge, for instance - "Today I will follow Jesus" or "Today I will..."  You get the idea.  In order to keep myself accountable and to actually finish this devotional I have decided that the new theme of my blog is 'spiritually naked.'  I'm going to write how and if I accomplished my goal each day, starting with today (so in order to see the first 6 challenges you will have to buy the book!).  :)  I'm hoping this will help me pay better attention to what I'm supposed to be learning and how God is working in my life.  I also hope that I may be an inspiration for anyone that reads this!  I know I'm not perfect, though I sometimes hate to admit that...this will be a new experience for me, but it is something I am truly, truly excited about!  Look out world, I'm wakin' up with the Lord!

And so Day 1  begins...


Reading this challenge this morning I was reminded of when I first received the grace of God.  I was only 7 but His grace was SO real to me.  It was so simple to understand when the biggest thing I needed grace for was lying to my parents or pinching my little brother.  But God's grace becomes more and more difficult to fathom the more and more I make mistakes.  And it seems that the mistakes grow with my age.  How can someone extend so much grace??  But that is why His grace is so amazing!!  It was discussed in class at one point how we over use the words amazing and awesome...I mean, does the bag your best friend just got really strike you with awe?  I doubt it.  But God's grace, now that is something that takes your breath away, that leaves you speechless, that fills you with awe.  His grace is truly awesome, it is truly amazing!  Why?  Because we don't deserve it and we could never earn it!

Throughout the day I was reminded that while I feel that certain people don't deserve grace, the reality is that none of us do.  I certainly don't.  Thank You Lord for Your awesome and amazing grace!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pushing Up Daisies

I've been home alone a lot since graduation...I don't start my new job until the 1st of June so until then I have to keep myself preoccupied at home.  That time has allowed me to discover a show that was on a couple of years ago - Pushing Up Daisies.  Ned, the star of the show, has a gift - when he touches the dead they come back to life.  But if he touches them again they will be dead forever.  AND if they are alive for longer than a minute, someone else dies in their place.  But thats not the point of my random musing.  Ned brings his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, back to life and chooses not to touch her again (which he has only done once before...for his childhood pet Digby the Golden Retriever).
I marvel at Chuck's second chance on life. She had the drastic chance to start completely over.  What would you do with a start over?  What would you do with a second chance at life?  Maybe I would try a new hobby.  Maybe I would stand up for myself instead of allowing others to take advantage of my passive personality.  Maybe I would try to be better.  After reflecting on these questions for a while, I realized that every day is a second chance.  Because of Christ, every day is a chance to start over, a chance to be better!  The thought brings me such joy.  I have a new life to live, just like Chuck!

But there's another thing about Chuck.  It wasn't easy, she had to leave things behind...things, people that she loved.   Sometimes a new start isn't easy.  Christ didn't say it would be easy, in fact, He said the exact opposite: "Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewed as serpents and innocent as doves" - Matthew 10:16.  Starting a new life is never easy, there are habits and people you have to leave behind - things that you loved.  But the new life is so very worth it.  In Pushing Up Daisies, Chuck is very happy with her new life...though she sometimes thinks of her old life, she knows that the way things are now are much, much better!

As for me, my old life is pushing up daisies.  My new life has started and I am ready to be better, to live better.  It's so, so exciting!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Israel's History Repeated

My first blog of the New Year!  Hopefully I can keep up the trend this time…going with more of a devotional theme this go round (with a few personal blogs interspersed I suppose).  J

My Bible reading this morning was out of Nehemiah, chapters 8-10.  In chapter 9, the people confess their sin starting with the history of Israel.  Verse 17 really jumped out at me because it’s what we do every day, what I do every day.

They refused to listen,
And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had
                performed among them;
So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their
                slavery in Egypt.
But You are a God of forgiveness,
Gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
And You did not forsake them.”

Let’s take a look at the first half of that verse:
“They refused to listen” – How often do I refuse to listen to what God is trying to tell me?  How often do I ignore the little voice in the back of my head because I just don’t want to hear what He has to say?

“And did not remember Your wondrous deeds…” – And then when I’m in crisis mode, when something doesn’t go my way, I forget all that He has already done for me, all the miraculous things He has done in the past.  He is ALWAYS in control, and when I look back, I can see that.  But when something goes wrong, that seems to be the first thing we, as humans, tend to forget. 

So they became stubborn…” - Yes, oh yes, I can be stubborn.  If I do happen to listen to what He is saying, sometimes I just completely refuse because I don’t want things to change.  I plant my feet and I’m not movin!  Israel couldn’t see what was good for them because they had their feet planted all the way back in Egypt.  Sometimes we can’t see what’s good for us because we have our feet planted in the other direction…

“…and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt…” – Why is it that we always want to run back to our old lives, our old habits.  For some crazy reason we think our old lives are better than what we have with God.  Initially you look at this and you think, well yeah, but the Israelites were going back to slavery!  That’s insane.  In John 8:34 says “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”  When we run back to our lives before Christ we are running back to slavery JUST LIKE ISRAEL.   

Thankfully, there is always a “But God…” because He intervenes even though we are anything but deserving.  Looking at the second half of verse 17, you can see just how awesome and wonderful our God is:

“But You are a God of forgiveness,
Gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
And You did not forsake them.”

He is forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, loving, kind – and we don’t deserve any of it!  But my favorite part of this verse is the very last part – “And You did not forsake them.”  We don’t listen, we forget what He has done in our lives, we’re stubborn, and we run away – BUT GOD never forsakes us, He never leaves us, He never gives up on us!  If that isn’t awesome and wonderful, I don’t know what is!  Isn’t it beautiful?  He loves us so much.

I challenge you today to listen, to remember, and to run TO God.  Do your best to keep history from repeating itself (again…).

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” – Galatians 5:1

*All Scripture references are from the NASB