Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gratitude is a choice

Holidays can bring chaos, schedules maxed out, different expectations, trying to balance and juggle and prioritize people you love.  Relate?! Pretty sure you can because this is normal!

3 intentional things I've practiced this year have helped me keep a good perspective and be able to enjoy. 

First, be on the same page with your spouse, easier said than done at times, but SO helpful when you aren't taking out stress on eachother. communicate, listen, compromise, appreciate and repeat. 

Second, be present where you are.  I know I can't do it all, be in all places, say yes to everything... so what I do put on the calendar matters to us and I will put my best into it.  Don't over book everyday if you can help it. Say no to some things so your yes to others can be better followed through with. Then be present. If I have a house full of cousins I wanna enjoy them, not be multitasking or sweeping or food prepping. Be present. Engage. Connect. 

Turn Off Your Phone


The third thing is to choose a grateful heart, you know it IS thanksgiving and all... Seems like actually being thankful can be pushed on the back burner this time of year, ironic huh? This afternoon my guys headed out for their annual hunting shack night with my dad, brother and nephews... after their blaze orange drove away I settled in with a writing prompt.  

A hot cup of coffee, a spice scented candle and a little of my fav. chocolate helped. Filling this page only took a handful of minutes, but it was really good for my soul. Seeing all these things that I DO have to be thankful for, sitting there staring back at me; Then following with some time of prayer thanking the One from whom all good things come. Now I'm ready for Thanksgiving starting at my heart, real-life and all.

      

Thursday, November 2, 2017

When God answers our prayers with "No"

When God says "No"

We are praying for something, earnestly. faithfully we ask God for this plan, this healing, this door to open.  We give our best effort to walk by faith, and to trust.  And as worry or anxiety seep in we keep giving it back to God and asking for peace, for direction and wisdom.  He answers those prayers, not in the way we hoped or asked... but in a firm "No".  What then?  

I think this is something we all can relate to in different ways.  Some ways are minor, some more foundational.  What does our faith do when it's shaken like that? When life feels like it's picked right up, turned upside down and shaken to the core? Where is our anchor when life is a little more real than we would like, a little more difficult, a LOT more challenging.  Even more devastating, heartbreaking, disappointing, painful.  Where is God when life is raw.  Where is He when suffering about snuffs the life right out of us?

First we need to keep in mind that the world we live in is broken.  Because we are surrounded by sin and the effects of sin, this world is never going to be the easy ride we would sometimes wish it would be.  We aren't promised a pain free life, in fact, Christians are promised the opposite.  (I know, super encouraging right?)  One of my favorite verses is John 16:33... I love the way it takes real-life and shifts the perspective to where our hope can take root.  



"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."


God isn't promising peace in this world-  He is promising peace in HIM. Then we are promised trouble.  He isn't trying to blind side us when life gets hard, He is preparing us for the hardship we all will face in a million different forms.  Should we be shocked, surprised or depressed when trouble comes? Not if we are prepared with the right perspective.  We can take courage, because our hope doesn't rest on this side of eternity... it rests IN eternity.  Jesus has overcome the world, and all the sin, brokenness, pain this world brings.  He holds the VICTORY!  

Secondly we need to remind ourselves that prayer doesn't make God our own personal wish granter-  but rather my prayers should be to align myself to HIS will... not the other way around.  I don't see the big picture like He does. and honestly, I don't know what is best the way He knows what is best.  Looking back at my life I am very thankful for some of the closed doors God gave me, although at the time it felt totally awful.  That door shutting sometimes stretched me more than what's comfortable.  And in those really difficult times God was nearby.  I was never abandoned the way my emotions wanted me to believe.  I was never forgotten.  His ways are not my ways, To His Glory! 

How can you use the hard things to light up darkness? How can you glorify Him with your redemption story? How can you learn and grow and root out that bitterness that is constantly tempting you to take root. These are questions worth giving some thought.  We will all face tribulation, we are promised that.  Where does our HOPE rest?  

So today, if the answer is "No"... today, take heart, because He has overcome the world!  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Smoke Alarms and Perspective

We had a pretty normal start to our Friday, we were chipping away at the end of week school subjects. I was working on English with Ledger when I heard the smoke alarms both upstairs and downstairs go off.  My 9 year old's room was hazy and smelled of burnt plastic. I knew something wasn't okay, but I couldn't find the source of the smoke.  The breaker in that section of the house kicked off. I called my husband at work to come home, and the boys and I all exited the house to wait.  

Emergencies do something to our nerves.  I was calm and a wreck all wrapped into one.  I couldn't help but think if it had been the middle of the night, how scary that alarm would be for my boys (& me!)

Josh got home and after looking for the source found our dehumidifier overheating and was actually starting to melt. The inside was charred, and I know could have caught fire.  We are all safe. Our home is fine. No harm done other than we need to replace the appliance. 

But I'm left with all of this. The what if's. The almosts. The could have beens. The images of my boys asleep in that room.  The God who I can trust, through life's close calls, and also life's tragedies.  God isn't more loving today when the outcome was what I would have picked than He would be if the outcome was complete devastation. Because God protected us today doesn't mean we are more in His favor than the family who is suffering total loss, or heartbreaking tragedy.  God doesn't change.  He IS love in both outcomes.  Life on earth holds devastation because it is broken.   

This verse has been meaning a lot to me lately for many reasons, and today I was reminded once again how little this life here on earth guarantees. We are not promised tomorrow.  We only have right now.  


James 4:14New American Standard Bible (NASB)

14 [a]Yet you do not know [b]what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

A life that hardly has a chance to begin and is snatched back to Glory- or the life that reaches the century mark and every single age in-between- ALL life here on earth is so tiny, so brief... Just a vapor compared to Eternity.  What will we do with that perspective? Are we confident in our eternal destination? We can be. The promises in the Bible and the free gift of Salvation through faith in Jesus' work on the cross can be the anchor of hope in a very tragedy, emergency filled life on earth. If today would have ended in my vapor of a life being over, I have complete confidence in where I would be... not one bit because of who I am, anything I've done or not done, it has nothing to do with who I know, how I spend my time or anything I could have possibly ever earned.  My Eternity is secure because Jesus offered to pay my ransom, He loved me so deeply that He wanted to rescue me. He is offering you the same! That gift, that GRACE, that place He took for me is my promise. It can be yours too- take some time to reflect on your vapor of a life... and where your hope is placed. 
It is well with my soul tonight when we are all safe, and my soul would be well if we were enduring heartbreak.  He goes before me and beside me.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fear& Faith

Fear

This is forefront on my mind this week.  We had an eerie visitor yesterday afternoon.  We live in a very wooded area, to our east we have a swamp and a small creek.  The highway is to our south.  It was early in the afternoon, we had really just came back inside after playing in a beautiful fall day. I was getting our youngest down for a nap when my 9 year old ran into the room saying, "mom, I saw a man" not really thinking too much of it I assumed he saw someone walking on the highway, we often do.  But when he restated what he saw I caught the urgency in his voice and knew this was different. That's when something triggered in me and protection mode kicked in.  I ensured all house doors were locked and secure.  The scene he told me gave me goose bumps.  A man exited the woods onto our east lawn, only about 15 feet from our house, he was taking intentional deliberate steps right towards the patio door that was unlocked, looking straight towards the house when he suddenly turned and ran, Ryder described it as an Olympic runner.  He sprinted out of here.  He had paid attention and was able to give a description that we could give the police when we called it in.  My dad was here in a few minutes, my husband not long after and the police came and spent a handful of hours making sure we were safe, talking with neighbors and patrolling the area.  They found nothing.  

So nothing is found, yet there is this traumatic event we need to deal with the aftermath.  Truths, we are all safe. No one was injured or even necessarily in danger. I do not know the man's intentions, but I do know he was where he did NOT belong, he was walking very intentionally right towards my home, and he was not welcome here.  I will likely never have a followup of this occurrence, I won't have closure. So how do I deal with the fried nerves or feelings of uneasiness? What do I do with the fact that the secure feeling I'm accustom to having is suddenly interrupted.

I can choose to focus on the what-if's? There are many.  What could have happened....  

Or I can choose to focus on the One in charge of our today and all of our tomorrows.  This is where peace reigns.  I do not know God's plan for the days ahead, I am not promised protection from all harm, from all the bad things in this world.  I am not promised a life without tragedy, or events that shake us to the core.  But I DO know the One who has designed my life- He knows every day and every moment. He knows my life plan, and the plan for my boys' lives too, because He ordained it. He goes before me and beside me.  I can TRUST HIM.  I can claim peace even in circumstances that aren't peaceful, because this isn't a peace that circumstances get to determine.  This is a peace that is inward, at soul level.  I can give all that anxiety, all that worry over to God and choose to walk by faith.  I'm choosing this, I'm not letting emotions or fears control. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. 

It is well with my soul.  Even if that's a mindset, and a heart-set, I need to continually choose. SO when standing face to face with the choice of fear or faith, I'm working on choosing faith.