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Stage1: Initial Meeting/Attraction

Dating relationships have to start somewhere. The initial meeting may take place over the internet, through friends, in a church or social group, at a party or bar or any one of a myriad of many different places.

Different arenas for meeting allow for different opportunities to get to know each other and see if there is enough curiosity or interest to take it to the next level which would involve arranging a second or third meeting.

Stage 2: Curiosity, Interest, and Infatuation

During the second stage, attraction and infatuation are most pronounced.

Early attraction often involves the physical attributes of the partner and include things like outward appearance, body type, interests and personality traits. At this stage, the attraction may not be too “deep” and each half of a couple is generally putting his or her best foot forward. Differences are not noticed or are dismissed with thoughts like “not a big deal” or “she will change”.

Couples generally do not have much conflict at this stage of the cycle as each is really trying hard to impress the other person. Often (not always) there is not enough “is this the right person for me” but rather more “what can I do to make this person like me?”

This stage may last for 3 or 4 months depending on the individuals and their maturity, experience and self-understanding. Towards the end of this stage, and hopefully at other times throughout it, it is not unusual for questions of “is this the right person for me” to emerge. For women especially there may also be a desire to figure out where the relationship is headed.

Going slowly in making any decisions about a relationship are more likely to be better ones than moving quickly (unless it is clear that the relationship is not a good fit).

Stage 3: “Enlightenment” and Becoming a Couple

During this stage of a relationship, hormones are calming down and reality sets in. Couples often go “deeper” in their connection. Trust is stronger and more intimacies may be shared at this stage as couples take away some of their “best face” and allow themselves to act more naturally and relaxed.

Both halves of a couple will notice weaknesses and differences or flaws. “Cute” habits might become irritating at this stage. Some of those perpetual issues or differences such as free-spending or frugal, neat and orderly or sloppy and disorganized, interested in lots of time together or more involved in outside activities begin to emerge.

At this stage of the relationship, couples will take note of the differences and may even begin to complain or attempt to problem-solve.

As intimacy develops between the two people, more self-disclosure emerges, both verbally and nonverbally as couples act in ways that are more like how they are in their daily life.

This is when the big question emerges even more strongly: “Where are we headed?“ Women have a tendency to ask this question before men, even though both may be wondering about the answer to this question. Pushing for an answer; however, may cause real problems in the relationship. Each person needs to listen to their own inner voice and wisdom. It is important to talk over their thoughts and feelings with their partner while finding ways to keep from “pushing” for commitment.

There is no need to rush through this important stage and every reason to go slowly.

Stage 4: Commitment or Engagement

At this stage in a relationship, couples should have a good understanding of their partner’s values, life style, and goals for the future. There should be a relationship with each other’s family and friends.

Open and honest conversations should be happening as couples plan their present and future together. Questions about children, finances, careers, future goals and lifestyle should be discussed more fully. Differences are normal and couples will learn about themselves and their relationship as they note how they handle these differences with each other.

This is also an important stage for couples to use to evaluate the relationship and their ability to be part of an emotionally intelligent relationship. Engagements can be broken much more easily and can clearly be a better decision than getting married and divorced.

 

You are too precious, too beautiful and too wonderful to be someone’s secret on the side

 

I am the daughter of a King, who is not moved by the world.

For my God is with me and goes before me.

I do not fear because I am His” – ‘Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.

Your are precious and honored in my sight because I love you.

 

A woman should look for a Godly man.  A man who wishes the heart and hand of a woman means his pursuit of that woman is endless. Purposeful. He does not go looking for other women in the meantime. She’s it for him. He knows that because the Lord has made it clear that she is his missing rib. He knows her worth to His purpose. A man who walks closely with the Lord knows the value of her. He who finds a wife finds a good thing.

So with that being said, and from a healed and whole place, don’t let anybody save you for later, friend.

You are worth the faithful devotion, pursuit and commitment of the one God calls you to be with.

Know who you are in God, walk contently in Him, and seek Him first, whatever is needed will be added unto you. ♡

 

 

 

My bible study leader shared this,  Love and authenticity go hand in hand. If someone loves you because you are a certain way they want you to be or you have to hide part of yourself in order to please them or make them happy – that’s not love.  I’m not talking about destructive behaviors, but I’m talking about truth.  If you have to hide who you are or you lie about who you love to make sure you don’t rock the boat so someone else will “love” you – friends, family, etc. thank you are quite frankly living a lie.  One that you can keep up for a long time but, at some point, life will crumble around you. A meaningful relationship, meaningful connection and just plain living your truth means to be authentic. If someone tries to hide you or need to hide you in order for them to feel good about themselves or be loved by someone else = stop and question.  Love is a choice to make a commitment that remains unchanging always and is not conditioned upon a persons conduct or behavior or if you “like” or “approve” of their partner.

 

 

 

 

Last week in bible study we talked about praise and ways in which we praise and are grateful and writing something regarding. I am overwhelmed sometimes at how many moments I have to be thankful for. It is good, at least for me, to narrow it down from time to time and be specific. So I thought of my home. My house is not new – it was built in the 1950’s and I love it – It has character. Not everything is new or updated but it contains memories. When I look at the paint in the kitchen that doesn’t always follow the lines – I remember a time in my life that stressed the importance of rest. When I look at the ceiling where my sister and I created pictures I think of joy. As I remember the wallpaper process I think of support in my mother helping with that project and laughter of my grandmother wanting ice cream before we were done. When I look at the couch I think of my first purchase in college and all those family members who have spent time on that couch from a surgery or needing a place to find peace. When I look at the living room chair I am grateful my Father sat there with no damage from his heart attack. Seeing the living room floor reminds me of all the friendships that love me to celebrate that in a floor party. As I see the fray of carpet in the kitchen I smile of little paws with claws that from time to time think the entire house is a scratching post. When I look at the back yard I think of growth and change. When I view other things of my home I see patience, forgiveness and grace as well as memories of many no longer with me. It is in the little moments and smallest details that we find reminders of how amazing our Heavenly Father is and that even in the storms, when something becomes worn with age or isn’t exactly what it used to be, and yes even in the imperfections – that life is one big amazing journey and there is so much to be grateful for.

 

Love is not always agreeing with your partner. It’s growing with them. It’s trying to understand and communicate with them. Love is not always rainbows and butterflies, but you make the moments. You choose to see joy. You choose to laugh. You choose to strive to see the person God sees in them. You apologize. You own up to your own. You heal. You commit to one person.

And there will be days it takes harder work than others. Someone might say something hurtful by accident, you forgive. Someone might do something by accident that offends you, you extend grace.

To be committed is a beautiful thing. It really is. To truly be known and loved by someone for who you are is Godly and agape. But until people learn what love is in the biblical sense, they should stay AWAY from marriage. I never want to marry someone and it end in divorce because someone felt loving me was too hard or they have an out clause waiting in their back pocket. Being committed was too hard. Walking away easy.

If they can’t be committed to you in dating, what do you think your married life will look like?

You build on what you have When the good times outweigh the bad, you don’t jump ship. You don’t let the enemy steal, kill, and destroy what God was doing.

When we know better and God shows us better, we do better. There is no room for “me” in a “we”. When you do not date for commitment, by default, you date for heartbreak. Trust me I know – I thought there were two people in it for a commitment to find out I was in a boat on my own.  Make sure whomever your with is on the same commitment journey.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
{Genesis 2:18}

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” {Ecclesiastes 4:9-12}

 

 

I had 48+ hours where the talk of virus stopped….it seemed to almost not exist.  It was refreshing and wonderful.  Life didn’t revolve around politics, germs, fear, media – it revolved around laughter, life, silliness, prayer and faith.

I had the opportunity to attend church for the first time since the directive went out to close churches. I never thought I’d see the day that churches closed their doors voluntarily.  The jury is out on both sides of the fence on that and I’ve both heard and thought deeply about both. 

I thought being a local but not living local – I’d be the “wild card” at the church service but you know what – there was no separation. The pastor shook my hand, others welcomed me, the pastor’s wife shook my hand as well.  Other than the local offering and this Sunday was not communion Sunday – life moved on as normal plus the addition of on line ministry.  There was one car that was listening on line but drove to the church parking lot every Sunday since the church closure to be at that location and show support.  It was beautiful, the hymns of tradition filled the air, familiar and inviting.  My heart and eyes wept of lyrics of memory moment, of gratefulness just to be there, of thanksgiving and of worship.  It was a day that will be etched in my heart always.

I thought of those who have never had that experience because they have to worship in secret for fear of their life and it is not a freedom given to them.  I thought of those that risk their lives every day to spread whatever message of the gospel they can.  On the Sundays I’d rather sleep in because it is cold out, or I’m just not “in the mood” or remember that person you just aren’t too thrilled to see at church because you think they aren’t as “holy” as you think they should be, or maybe you’ll go next Sunday? We thought that many Sundays ago….that we can just go for whatever reason “another Sunday” but that Sunday didn’t come. 

The Pastor this past Sunday preached on Faith – on the power of Faith, on growing our Faith, on examining how much Faith we have.  A Sunday will come when you have the opportunity to once again attend church, to be gathered with others, to worship, give thanks and rejoice, to bring your fears, your concerns, your worries….your celebrations, your joys, your smiles.

What will you do with that Sunday when it arrives?

 

 

A boy and a girl were playing together. The boy had a collection of beautiful  marbles. The girl had some candies with her. The boy offered to give the girl all his marbles in exchange for all her candies. The girl agreed. The boy gave all the marbles to the girl, but secretly kept the biggest and the most beautiful marble for himself. The girl gave him all her candies as she had promised. That night, the girl slept peacefully. But the boy couldn’t sleep as he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some more tasty candies from him the way he had hidden his best marble.

Moral: If you don’t give your hundred percent in a relationship, you’ll always keep doubting if the other person has given his/her hundred percent.

 

 

 

Me: Hey God.
God: Hello…..
Me: I’m falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not.
Me: Why?
God: Because you aren’t a puzzle.
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.
Me: You don’t understand! I’m breaking down!
God: No – you don’t understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling are just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You aren’t falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don’t need anymore to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don’t fit you anymore. Let them fall off. Let them go.
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?
God: Only the very best pieces of you.
Me: I’m scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you – YOU AREN’T CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don’t change! … Become! Become! Become who I made you to be. I’m going to keep telling you this until you remember it.
Me: There goes another piece.
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So … I’m not broken?
God: Of course Not! – but you are breaking like the dawn. It’s a new day. Become!!!
~Author Unknown

 

 

A slight wrinkle      on the pond           as he said

 

all that’s left of        this life is             what remains

 

for the next              three redwings      motionless now

 

atop cattails             are match tips        soon enough

 

to strike out            this evening on      one black flame

 

 

 

 

This is the first week of a thirty-four-week journey. We begin at the beginning—our story. Prayer is about our relationship with God. We will begin to grow in this relationship with God, in the midst of our everyday lives this week, by simply reflecting upon our own story. There may be times we will want to take a period of prayer to reflect upon our story this week. What is most important, however, is that we begin by letting this reflection become the background of our week.

 

 

 

This was in one of our West Side shares…..  Are you a fountain or a drain?

I just love that! Being a fountain overflowing with joy, grace, forgiveness, laughter, excitement, adventure, looking forward to the future, peace + so much more.  Or being a drain constantly dragging others down, always reminding them of the past, of failure, holding onto unforgiveness, bitterness, selfishness.  There is a HUGE difference.  I recently listened to a sermon on energy and people of God being together. 

I admit, I LOVE, worshiping and being home for church on Saturday and Sunday.  However there is something magical and grounding about being with a family of believers at church.  The video talked about how our energy shifts when two or more are gathered and that positive, life giving energy begins to flow and God uses that for His glory in healing, restoration, peace, finding salvation and having a knowing relationship with Him.

Isn’t that beautiful.  Just like a plant alone in a pot can grow but it grows so much better with life around it, soil nourishment, bees and bird, rain and the gentle dance of wind.

We are too like that.  We thrive and blossom and grow around others.  Our spiritual positive energy is increased.   I don’t know about you but being around fountains vs. drains is much more enjoyable.  I know it is more more wonderful to be a fountain vs a drain too! I’ve had people tell me I’m like a Hallmark card during this time.  And I think – thank you Jesus! I’d so much rather be pouring out that loving, encouraging energy than draining people of things they are possibly running low on.

So be a blessing and be a fountain today! You never know who seems ok on the outside but really needs some fountain touch on the inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalms 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

 

 

Every once in a while, an ewe will give birth to a lamb and reject it. There are many reasons she may do this. If the lamb is returned to the ewe, the mother may even kick the poor animal away. Once a ewe rejects one of her lambs, she will never change her mind.
These little lambs will hang their heads so low that it looks like something is wrong with its neck. Their spirit is broken.
These lambs are called “bummer lambs.” Unless the shepherd intervenes, that lamb will die, rejected and alone. So, do you know what the shepherd does?
He takes that rejected little one into his home, hand-feeds it and keep it warm by the fire. He will wrap it up with blankets and hold it to his chest so the bummer can hear his heartbeat. Once the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock.
But that sheep never forgets how the shepherd cared for him when his mother rejected him. When the shepherd calls for the flock, guess who runs to him first?
That is right, the bummer sheep. He knows his voice intimately.
It is not that the bummer lamb is loved more, it just knows intimately the one who loves it.
It’s not that it is loved more, it just believes it because it has experienced that love one on one.
So many of us are bummer lambs, rejected and broken. But He is the good Shepherd. He cares for our every need and holds us close to His heart so we can hear His heartbeat.
We may be broken but we are deeply loved by the Shepherd.”
The Lord is MY shepherd… I’m a bummer lamb.
~Sheila Walsh, Loved Back To Life

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” -John 10:14-15

 

 

 

What a beautiful sky Tuesday! I am so loving this warm, sunshine filled weather.

Before all this virus whirlwind started, I had created “untouchable days” in my calendar.  I read this once in a daily devotional and like it.  Untouchable days are days that we mark off just to spend time being, being with God, being with ourselves, refilling our tea kettles.  I am a huge proponent of making sure what I fill my tea kettle with is good: love, joy, kindness, grace, forgiveness, etc. and that I fill it.

I had a friend ask me – you take care of so many others – who takes care of you?  The question caught me off guard as I don’t really think about it.   But I did stop and dig deep into that question.  My friends and family love me and are huge supporters….each one in different ways – some emotional, some physical, some spiritual and some mental.  And I am so grateful for all of them to my core.  They support my tea kettle, yet they need me to pour out onto them also.  My kettle reaches far and wide – from on line, to text messages, to in person, to someone I just met at a local coffee shop or at church.  I love fellowship.  And it is an amazing feeling to be loved, to be supported, to be cherished, to be wanted and missed. I appreciate all of those feelings.  And sometimes I physically need help – you all know my ability to run a hammer and my huge dislike dealing with car issues….smiling.

When I stop…breathe…and ask myself who takes care of me?  My Heavenly Dad is the answer – the buck stops here.  He takes care of all of us.   I wouldn’t have a tea kettle without him. I wouldn’t be able to know it is filled without his loving knowing.  I would have no clue who to pour out to or when to pour if he didn’t guide me.  While I am blessed beyond measure of all the wonderful people in my life….He is still the one that shelters me under his wing and guides my footsteps in the storm.

I know this time of social distancing and home time have been very hard for people in many different ways.  I had someone ask – I bet this time is hard for you as you love being around people.  I smiled and that is so true, but I love being home as well.  My home is my sanctuary.  I wish that for everyone.  I really think God is using this time, for me anyway, to draw closer to him, to spend more time in worship and to get a few ducks in a circle (I never was good at straight lines – smiling).  I think he is telling me, you can breath and just be.   I believe to have a good friend is also to be one.  Right now there isn’t a lot of support “in person” connection, yet we can support each other in so many other wonderful ways.  Right now I don’t have to try to make all the events, schedule new ones, or plan….I can take each day and find a way to spread joy, peace, love, grace and the message that God loves each and every one of us.   I can take time to explore nature,  annoy Jetta, watch squirrels with Nahla and Willow –  even be domestic (wait did I just write that)…and find blessings in the little details.  I believe each one of us still have a purpose during this time – a commandment to love one another and help each other.  I’m grateful to live in Nebraska over and over for those reasons and so many more.

As Easter Sunday approaches – I’m excited to get to see so many services online of churches I adore.  And the old hymns – that fill my heart with great joy.   After this is all over – the one thing that will never change, the one thing that hasn’t changed….is we know He Lives.  And that’s the best ending ever !

 

 

 

We cannot avoid offenses.  It happens – it will continue as hard as we try to happen.   But they hurt me, they did this, they did that – right?  So I have the “right” to be offended. Really?

We can choose to live offended or not.  Offense in inevitable but being offended for life is optional.

 

 

“Prayer for this Season –
May we who are merely inconvenienced, remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.
May those who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May those who have the flexibility to care for our children when schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel a trip remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.
May those who settle for quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose faith and love during this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace to God and our neighbor.”
– Prayer by Cameron Wiggins Bellm

 

This time is amazing.  I know it isn’t what we all ever pictured it, however it is really a beautiful time if you look at it through the right lens.

I received a text message from a stay at home mom who makes sure they take a break from school work daily to do their Awana studies and read the bible.  Kids are playing outside, people are sharing scriptures, christian worship services and are actually communicating be it technology, in person or cards.  The creativity is flowing like a river from so many and people are being quiet, still and then finding joy in the moments, in the details, in a sunrise and sunset.

The beauty is there, the love and joy are there. 

 

 

 

A conversation with God …

Please please read this. It will make your day.
Someone posted this and it’s beautiful!!

Society: What about my plans?!

God: My plans for you are always better than your own. Don’t worry. I’m going to work this all out for your good.

Society: We’re not going to get anything done!

God: That’s the point. You know how you keep spinning your wheels—always working, moving, doing—but never feeling satisfied? I’ve given you permission to stop. I’ve cleared your calendars for you! Your worth isn’t tied to being busy or accomplishment. All you have to do is take care of each other.

Society: What does this all mean?

God: It means I’m in control. It means you are human and I am God. It means I’ve given you a wonderful opportunity to be the light in a dark world. It means you are going to learn to rely on me.

Society: What are we supposed to do when we can’t leave our homes?

God: Rest. You are always so busy and overwhelmed, crying out to me weary and exhausted. Can’t you use a break from your fast-paced and over-scheduled lives? Go ahead and rest. Pray. Love your families. Be still and spend time with me.

Society: You mean we’re supposed to stay home with our kids all day, every day?

God: Yes. And you’re going to be just fine. This time together is a rare gift. The rush of daily life has come to a halt. Play games. Bake cookies. Work on projects you’ve never had the time for. Teach them kindness and grace. Show them how to endure difficult circumstances and steer them toward me.

Society: We better start hoarding anything we can get our hands on!

God: Prevention, yes. Precaution, yes. Preparedness, yes. But after that, it’s time to put the needs of others before your own. When you see someone in need, help them. Offer up what you have. Do not worry about tomorrow! Haven’t I always taken care of you? Now, go take care of someone else.

Society: Why is this happening?

God: To remind you that I’m in control. To bring your attention back to me. I’m bringing you together as families and neighbors. I’m showing you patience and perseverance. I’m reminding you of your purpose and priorities. Now is the time to learn and teach your children what this life is really about.

Society: We don’t know who to believe.

God: Believe in me. Trust me. Ask me for wisdom and I will surely give it.

Society: We’re scared!

God: I’ve got this and I’m with you.

 

 

I find it interesting that spending time alone is coined “isolation”.   I have always believed that if you aren’t comfortable spending time in your own skin with just yourself, you will never truly be comfortable spending time with others being your authentic self. 

This season is an interesting one to say the least.  I’m still working full time (grateful) as my high heels just don’t seem the same wearing them to feel the cats…smiling.  However I’m extremely enjoying the “just be” time.  My life really hasn’t changed much except for dine out is take out now and social distancing impacts of event cancelling.  Yet, my job to create, connect, spread a message of God’s love, joy and peace has not changed.  In fact, if I’m doing my purpose, I’m busier now in that aspect than ever.  There are so many people that need emotional touches, God reminder touches, peace and joy touches right now.

I believe more than ever it is imperative that we all know what our “purpose” is and live it fully, without fear, with joy and love and do it!

I don’t know what tomorrow brings but I know who holds tomorrow.  And I’m excited for what the next page of the book brings. 🙂

Amber husk
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,
 
treasure
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:
 
your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.
 
Beautiful, wide-spread,
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?

 

 

When we are brought to a place where we cannot control pretty much anything – God has our attention.  That made me smile.

Sunday was one of the most amazing days – time in nature and also time in worship.  I had a chance to watch sermons and worship times from all over – even back in the Sandhills.

The above video on worry also made me smile.  If I trust God on my salvation and eternity – isn’t it silly that I try to control anything else? 

I don’t know what it is about this time -but I am grateful that God is using me to have other ask….why aren’t you worried? Aren’t you worried about getting sick  or not going to work?

Can I change anything by living in the past? Nope!

Even though I love someone can I make them love me? Nope!

Can I control either of those? Nope! 

But there are things I can do.  I can stand in spiritual battle in prayer.  I can stand on God’s word for His promises over my life and the lives of others.  I can rebuke things of the Devil in my life and the life of others.

I can pray, I can worship, I can be grateful and forgiving.  I can give thanks!  I can celebrate the little moments.  I can spread joy, peace instead of panic, faith instead of fear.   Even when life seems out of control – there are things I can do.    And I can always remember my Heavenly Dad is in control.

 

 

Image may contain: possible text that says 'So technically showing up at the bank in a mask and gloves is ok now.'

Lips sumptuous you have in a way quiet,
Excites me to consume them with a kiss
To give my heart a sensational riot
Of penchant wild, draws me into its abyss.
Within is stroked like the wind keen on trees,
Like the summer at its brightest in June;
Your tongue, rich like creamy soup made from peas,
My tongue rubs like fingers petting a prune.
Through the kiss is pleasure marked as crystal,
Our hearts grasping each other without bar.
Their heat flares as the bang of a pistol,
Flare rhythmic like erotic guitar.
Savoring you is tense felt so brooded,
Touch of the kiss is never concluded.

Image may contain: tree and outdoor

 

Amber husk
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,

treasure
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:

your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.

Beautiful, wide-spread,
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?

 

https://leftbraincraftbrain.com/28-days-of-stem-activities-and-steam-activities-for-kids/?fbclid=IwAR19xk7zDJkVIlHF6nkoSTFB7-u2PsTMvVxtFCAEQylgc-B4CBJFCNX48Dk

What a beautiful fog covered morning.

World Inside a Raindrop

some days, the clouds hang low to the ground
and the whole world feels softer.
i am small and shivering, inside the clouds.
i can see where the lights start and stop
as they bounce off water particles and fizzle
through the walls of grayish fog,
and the place i am becomes a place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am social by nature….as the world turns and grows and rivers ebb and flow, part of my God given purpose is connection, is relationship, is conversation.  That is what God has given me as part of my journey to do on this wonderful planet.

The words “social distance” are amusing to me.  With a world so “socially” connected and yet at times not connected at all….I find those two words interesting.  In my area of the world, we are not distancing in physical ways as much yet.  Church was still held in the community, businesses are still open and yes grocery stores are out of TP.

There are ways to view and look at the impacts – how do people see the media, in what ways do they process, how is the socialist society is not the type of nation I want (and those out of paper – guessing want either).  There are many ideas and concept floating around during this time, many changes, many uncertain components.

There are many beautiful moments happening too.   The tiny details of compassion, checking in, of trees waving hello and the cranes still taking their normal flight patterns in the morning sun and evening setting.

I was thinking we are all like trees.  Perhaps our branches do not always touch on the surface, but our roots grow together, making us each strong.  My root wraps around you and yours around mine and together we support one another.  

The most beautiful thing to come out of this is faith.  Faith budding in each other, faith growing in our President, faith that is rooted in God – the one that is never changing, always present and forever certain.

I know this is a fearful, anxiety, and uncertain time for some.  This is when, in my opinion, those of faith – real grounded faith – need to come along side those who experience this overwhelming emotion to walk with them, to wrap our roots around them and help them grow strong.  God has given us a spirit of faith and not of fear.   Day by day we can wake knowing no matter what God is still and always in control. I pray this time will be a spiritual revival for many to have a personal relationship with God.

I pray this is a time that my and your roots grow deeper and stronger as our Heavenly Father watches over us and is with us.  Now is the time to stand strong and bold in His word to a world that is searching, uncertain and at times fearful.

May our roots blend together. May we stand strong in our Faith.  May we journey these interesting moments together.

 

• Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place.
• Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.
• Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.

We asked God to remind you that HE is your shepherd. HE loves you. HE is watching over you… and his vision is perfect.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want, HE makes me lie down in green pastures; HE leads me beside quiet waters. HE restores my soul. – PSALM 23:1-3”

Since the LORD is your shepherd what are you Worried about? Go Live Out Loud Today!

What if you thought of it – of this time as
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from constantly going.
Breathe, just for now,
notice the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch physically only those
to whom you commit your life.

Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
Heart touch in connections to others.
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

 

 

 

 

Great Article:

By Dr. Sharkawy On COVID-19:

“I’m a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.

I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.

What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they ” probably don’t have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know…” and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.

I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games…that could be kyboshed too. Can you even imagine?

I’m scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.

But mostly, I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, open mindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.

Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and “fight for yourself above all else” attitude could prove disastrous.

I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.
Our children will thank us for it.

 

What a beautiful fog blanketed morning…

“The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.” ~ Carl Sandburg

   

 
 
Let’s make it an opportunity to feed our soul.
With the great moon spinning on our homes uniting
lovers who love each other.



If you forget me

I want you to know
One thing.

You know how this is:
if i watch
the crystal moon, the red branch
of slow fall at my window,
if i touch
near the fire
The impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of wood,
everything leads me to you;
as if what exists,
scents, light, sounds were small ships going
To your islands that await me.

Well, you made a choice, so
If little by little you stop loving me
I will little by little fade away:
If suddenly
you forget me,
don’t look for me,
 I already dissolved into the banks of the river.
If you consider long and crazy
The wind of flags
that passes through my life
and you decide
Leaving me at the shore
Of the heart in which I sank roots,
Think about it
That on that day,
at that hour,
I’ll lift my arms up
and my roots will come out
looking for more land.

But what is it?
if every day,
every hour
Feel that you are destined for me
with relentless sweetness.
If every day goes up
To your lips a flower looking for me,
In me all that fire repeats itself,
Look for me in the banks of the river,
of once upon a time,
And as long as you live you will be in her arms
without getting out of mine.

 
 
 
 
 

 

She might have melted a heart of stone, but nothing can melt a heart of wood.      ~ Victor Hugo

 

A tree without roots is just a piece of wood.

I was thinking about that quote as I nature explored yesterday.  What a beautiful God given day of rain, snow and sunlight.  One of the many reasons I love Nebraska….the way the colors jump off the canvas, the nature hidden treasures, the sound of the water, the array of feathered singers, furry climbers and now the cranes as they bring with them their stories from far away lands traveled.

My treasure found while exploring ….
 
“the woods always look different at night…as if the daytime trees and flowers and stones had gone to bed and sent slightly more ominous versions of themselves to take their places.” ~ Collins
 
How we spend some of our life like leaves tossed in the wind.  Even the arms of the trees seem to wave to the morning and evening sky.  There is something to be said about being rooted, grounded, knowing  who you are and what you want.   I find the scurry and worry of virus talk interesting.   Those who are rooted are ready when they take their last breath….those who are not scurry.  Those who are afraid of risk taking to be and have who they want and are….scurry. 
 
Did you know Purple Heart Wood is one of the most expensive and sought after woods in the world?  It maybe because it is rare or hard to obtain.  Perhaps it is because someone once put a price on it and it stuck. Yet perception is all in the eyes of the beholder.  To some purple heart wood maybe the most beautiful in the world and to another a treasure log found while holding the hand of a lover, a magical stick wand telling a story, or a goblet hand carved from a beloved tree maybe the wood deemed precious.
 
My exploration yesterday lead me to this colorful canvas of leaves nestled snug around a piece of wood.   As my tips ran over its features knowing it, I could hear the stories it told.
Once part of a tree that was a home for a family of squirrels, a nesting sight for feathered winged ones, providing shelter from the sun and a playground for youthful raindrops.
 
Can you hear the stories it is telling.   As I sit tracing the lines, the wood wet formidable under my touch, thinking of what it’s purpose is.   What journey it has.
I see myself in the wood…once an Aspen tree…now this piece also a part of me.  As the quote stated “a tree without roots is just a piece of wood.” 
The word “just” ….
 
I held that word…. “just”  let it sink deep within my soul.  J…u….s….t
If I am no longer a tree…I am “just” and a tree that is no longer rooted is “just”
 
Perceptions, value, priceless, treasures, grounded, new life, next chapter, creations, change.
The purple heart wood “keeps on changing its color from dark brown to beautiful purple color”  this is part of it’s attractiveness, part of it’s value.
 
The old chapter an Aspen tree…the next chapter…just…
 
Did you know about the Aspen the blended piece of wood whispered to me as I sat circling it’s edges…
“Crowns of aspen leaves have been found in ancient burial grounds thought to be there in order to aid the dead on their path to rebirth.
The Greek name for aspen is ‘aspis’ which literally means shield. This association transferred over to Ireland where the aspen was known as the shield makers’ tree.
The Celts chose the lightweight wood of the aspen tree to make their shields which were thought to protect them from spiritual more than physical harm.”
 
A spiritual shield.
 
A tree no longer a tree….is “just” the beginning in the eyes of it’s maker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a beautiful sound….the droplets playing on the window panes
tapping like little shoes with the wind twirling them around.
Morning steam filling the house with it’s life giving aroma.

When God planted a seed in my heart…I watered it, nourished it and
even in times of drought or darkness…protected it.
Yet sometimes seeds, even with loving care, go dormant and are lost.

I did exactly what God instructed, be a good partner, grow, form deep roots.

Love and commit to loving.  Forgive, overflow with joy and grace. 

I nourished that seed…the seed that was planted long ago.
Yet the soil was hard, no matter how much care and nourishment
the soil in the end, remained cold and rejecting of the little seed lovingly planted.

We can change the path we travel and begin a new chapter, but each step
leads onto the next. So the chapter may be new but the path is made
up of all our footsteps, from the very first to the one we are next to take.

The journey through the eyes of the trees…
Grounded deep like the trunk with roots firmly planted.
Branches waving in the wind and new buds once dormant,
given the chance to bloom again in a new chapter.

I now enter the firefly forest
the trees are different from the Oak and Aspen trees I once knew,
no redwing birds sing in this place, just the flutter of firefly wings.

Darkness feels like an old friend.
As the fireflies dance through the lattice of the trees,
glows of honeydust fill the air…
Appearing in the distance the Tree of Life.

Breath slowly in….as I feel the honeydust flow through my veins.
The Tree of Life is a symbol for rebirth as trees lose their leaves and seem to be dead during winter, but then

new buds appear and new, fresh leaves unfurl during the spring. This represents the beginning of a new life chapter.

Walking step by step into the firefly forest until my toes touch the base of the tree.

The only solitary tree, the only proof of life in the middle of the worst conditions you can imagine. It grows alone in an arid dessert.

One tree and only hot sand around it. How deep the roots must be to be able to find water in the middle of a dessert.

What strong will to live it must have to be able to grow there…strength, resistance, persistence, ability to live and survive.

At the base of this tree….this is where I will re-plant the seed that God gave me.

This is the ground, that seed will grow.

A new chapter… moments swelling buds to appear
And one by one their tender leaves shall unfold,
As if they knew that warmer suns were near,
Nor longer sought to hide from winter’s cold.

 

 

 

I wish words were like little toy guns
No sting, no hurt no one, just a bang bang
Rolling off your tongue
Yeah, no smoke, no bullets
No kick from the trigger when you pull it, no pain, no damage done
And just a bang bang rolling off your tongue
(I wish words were like little toy guns)

I am going through this 40 (give or take) days with a few others on growing deeper with God.  In this I wonder how someone who says he loves God and is a man of God continues living two separate lives.

One he light switches on whenever he feels like it (with no regard to my heart) and the other he chooses to wear a mask continually to make sure that everyone “loves” who he is because if he took off the mask and lived just one life – what would others think?

I have been studying the word LOVE. How is it someone can say they love you and live two lives, treat the person they say the love very un-Christ like and still fall asleep at night like nothing happened.

I’ve been studying healthy love:

1 – It is authentic, it doesn’t ask the other person to hide (pictures, time together, being together or a I can’t talk to you when “others” are around).  It is open, fluid, giving and receiving. It stands no matter what others think or say.  It never lets go of a hand.

Then there is what drives people to behave in unhealthy ways:

1 – Driven by the past

The Bible says – God has forgiven your past and made you new. Nothing changes the past but that.  Some people choose to be martyrs of their past thus creating unhealthy relationship behavior.

2 – Driven by fear.

Fear driven people miss and train wreck a great loving relationship opportunity because they are afraid to take that chance.  They play it safe so they can “maintain” the appearance.

Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep  you from having a loving giving and receiving relationship that God intended you to have.  If you have FEAR  you CANNOT have LOVE.

3 – Driven by their need for approval.

Expectations of others (one’s children or an ex-spouse) control their lives.

Many adults are still trying to “earn” the approval of those people around them.  If you are always worried about what others think or trying to people please you will fail in all areas of your life.

A mask can only stay on for so long – sure it can last for year – but at some point living double lives and wearing that non-authentic mask crumbles.

That is why living, dating and loving intentionally is required for a healthy loving relationship. 

Think about it – if someone can’t be the same person with you that they are when they are around someone else – that is not authentic.  They are lost emotionally.  Being a Christian doesn’t solve everything but it gives us an example of being authentic. Just as Peter denied knowing God three times – are you in a relationship with someone when others are around denies you? denies knowing you? denies that they said they love you?

That person is not healthy.  That is manipulation not love.

Love is authentic, real, not hiding, being there, supportive….that is healthy.  So when I was reading and asking myself – why some people repeat the same secret hidden life again over and over…it is by their choice.

Everything is a choice. Love is a choice.  Living authentic is a choice.  Living secrets is also a choice. 

 

 

 

God made you so he could love you.

 

I was thinking about love today.  How beautiful and sweet the fragrance of love is.  How it’s scent lingers on everything.  We all want to be loved but even more, at least for me, I wish to give love.

It is heartbreaking to give your love to someone who says they love you, only to be rejected in action.  It breaks my  heart.  All the time in the world will not change some hearts – that is just a given.

I picture taking care of someone.  To me that is the most beautiful testament of love.  God says, ” Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you.” Is there any more beautiful gift than that? To share a love so bonded that even when your hair has turned gray I will love you, support you and be there for you – never letting go of your hand. 

  1. You are who you are for a reason;
    You’re part of an intricate plan;
    You’re a precious and perfect unique design,
    Called God’s special woman or man.
  2. You look like you look for a reason.
    Our God made no mistake;
    He knit you together within the womb;
    You’re just what He wanted to make.
  3. You are who you are for a reason,
    You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod;
    You are who you are, beloved,
    Because there is a God!

“If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV).

 
Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. Even when you don’t feel like it, you can choose to do it anyway.

1 Corinthians 13. Five words in particular “Without love, I am nothing.”

I realize the single most important thing I can do is love.

I made a choice. It isn’t always the easy choice, but it changes my whole dynamic  and the way  I see myself as God’s child.

Acting in love when you don’t feel like it is actually a greater expression of love than when you do feel like it. Love is checking in and doing something your partner wants to do after you’ve already had a long day.  Love is being patient with your partner when they’re irritable. Love is giving a person what they need, not what they deserve.

It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than feel your way into an action. If you act in a loving way, eventually the feelings will follow. That’s important to remember when you are trying to love people who seem unlovable.

When you love in spite of your feelings, that’s called loving by faith. And it doesn’t just change the other person. It changes you, too, and makes you more like Jesus.

Without love, all that you say is ineffective. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV). Words without love are just noise.

Without love, all that you know is incomplete. “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge . . . but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV). You can read all the sself help books about relationships, about forgiveness and about grace and fill your mind with information and knowledge. Yet many of our most basic problems are not being solved, because the more  knowledge is not the answer – action in love is.

Without love, all that you believe is insufficient. “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV). Many people have the misconception that being a Christian is just about believing certain truths and doctrines. But do you love Jesus? Do you realize he loves you? Christianity is about experiencing the love Jesus has for you and learning how to love like him. Do you love your partner or do you just go through the motions?

Without love, all that you give is insignificant. “If I give all I possess to the poor . . . but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV). There are all kinds of motivations for giving, including obligation or prestige or guilt. Just because you give doesn’t mean you’re doing it in love. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

Without love, all that you accomplish is inadequate. “If I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever” (1 Corinthians 13:3 TLB). You can have all kinds of great accomplishments. You can even sacrifice your life for others, for your causes, for the greatest cause in the world—the Kingdom of God—but without love, it’s wasted effort.

You can have the eloquence of an orator, the knowledge of a genius, the faith of a miracle worker, the generosity of a philanthropist, and the dedication of a martyr. But if you don’t love, it doesn’t count.

 

 

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV).

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is not a cross, a crucifix, a dove, or a fish on a bumper sticker. The sign of a Christian is love. How many people know you’re a Christian because of your loving lifestyle?

We sing about love, talk about love, pray about love, and study love. But do we do it? To develop love as your life principle and make it your greatest aim, you have to take some action You’re going to have to take the initiative. Love acts!

First, start acting loving in your partnership relationships. If you say you love others but treat your partner in your relationship as a left over and less than – you really aren’t showing love no matter how much you show it to others.

Relationship is key to love.

You cannot live a loving lifestyle as a hermit. You spell love T-I-M-E. It takes time to love other people. If you love your friends, you’ve got to spend time with them. If you love your partner, you’ve got to spend time with him or her. If you love Jesus, you’ve got to spend time with him. Love always costs time and energy. But it’s always worth it.

People are attracted to Christ more than they are persuaded to him. They’re attracted by the love of God shown through the people who claim to follow him. And they won’t care what we know until they first know that we care.

  • How does the way you show love to everyone impact and influence the people in your life who aren’t followers of Jesus?
  • What way can you in action show love to your partner?
  • What might be keeping you from developing and deepening a love relationship?

WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE

A friend asked me to walk through this 40 days of the word…so I said yes.

“Your purpose was never to get so rich that you could retire and just relax for the rest of your life.”

Isn’t that an interesting statement? I have heard that from a few people that just can’t wait to retire and live for that but then when it arrives spend all day doing exactly what they want, what works for them, what’s in it for them. They need to spend their winters in Arizona or someplace warm traveling, golfing, dining, etc. Nothing wrong with that but what’s their purpose? Them?

What if God came to you today and asked you why he should give you 15 more years on earth? What would you say? Oh so I can golf more, travel more, and do all the things I want? Or would you say for the purpose you created me to fulfill. But do you even know what that purpose is?

God created me for a purpose. To be a daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, cat mom, caretaker, and equally yoked partner. I love being all of those things. Yet my purpose that I’ve been created for is connection, relationship, and how God uses those for his glory.

I don’t need to wait until someday, until I retire, until I have zxy in the bank, until I don’t have this sin or that sin, until you think better of me, I don’t need any of that. I am living my life and my purpose right now.

It is easy when we have enough to live life just thinking we always have tomorrow. What if today you walked out of your house and you never came back? The coffee cup on the table where you last put it, the dress that is on the chair, the half uneaten sandwich in the fridge. Oh and that person that you said someday I’ll get around to showing them I love them – they will never know. The gift, the phone call, the touch you meant to share – will never happen.

That is the life I want to live daily. If I left the house today and didn’t come back….

“Living authentic means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationship. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”

Stop settling for an all about me – my way – selfish man.

You deserve someone who has your back.
You deserve to feel loved.

I’m so tired of never having a hand to hold.

I wish I could be as carefree as my man is that life is one big game but it really isn’t.

And the right man will be there, and help out in all of the ways you need.

The right man will let you sleep in, and will want to just be with you.
The right man will help you with life, even after a long day.
The right man will step up, and do whatever needs to be done to help out.

You will not have to beg to be loved.

You will not have to feel alone.

You will feel validated, loved, and understood.

Don’t settle for selfish.

Love is about giving.

You don’t ever deserve to feel alone, or like you don’t exist.

You’re a team, and you’re in this together.

You should never feel like you’re doing it alone.

You deserve to be taken care of sometimes.

You deserve help.

You deserve to wake up to the smell of coffee sometimes and a smiling face who loves you.

Love that stays is real.

Don’t settle.

Valentine’s day is beautiful….love is in the air floating around. It makes me smile at the posts to come of women who are loved greatly and wish to shout from the roof tops that they are loved and greatly cared for by a loving partner. Love is a gift, something precious and something to be celebrated.

Love is Fragile. Handle a heart with care.

Love in a relationship has got to be guarded very carefully. I just don’t think that great love can stand too much abandonment. It can stand some. But the trouble with when someone intentionally chooses to let go of your hand time after time, you realize you cannot depend on them. There is a difference in all about me vs all about we. Abandonment and the silent treatment escalates until it becomes destructive.

It’s something that goes on and on and on. One person believes the words of the other and then the other partner is there only when felt like. My world does not pay in the long run. I feel that people have got to regard love as a tender, fragile thing that has to be guarded all the time. I don’t think love is a tough, eternal thing that can just fend for itself. It must be taken care of, nurtured and supported.

Love IS fragile. We can’t continually abandon each other and expect our love to grow in a positive direction. We need to be careful and prayerful in how we deal with our love for one another—with a mindset to grow it. Is life more about “you” or more about “we”.

God expects us to be more than that in our relationship. He is the one who guides us to be kinder to each other. He is also impressing upon us to speak the truth in LOVE to each other. Expressing truth, motivated by love is respectful and kind. He also expects us to show up. Just like when we attend church if we just show up when we “feel” like it and we aren’t giving our heart we are just doing it for the motions or others to see. A relationship is the same way – show up full and be all in.

Love, even genuine love, is a fragile thing. It must be maintained and protected if it is to survive. You get out of a relationship what you put in. And if you are just barley paying attention – at some point you won’t have anything to pay attention to.

I know you
by your scent,

by slipping your shirt
ove my naked skin,

by closing my eyes
as the scent of you permeates,

inhaling you,
the in breath of the air.

by feeling you
caressing each valley,

that some
distant touch

left your traces
on me, lingering in me

I know you
by your scent.

your breath
fills my nostrils.

scent tips
leaving track tracings,

like tips that
lovingly explore,

the pages deep into
a well-known book.

taking in my lines
over and over again.

The aroma of your mouth,
longing to gently awaken.

Stealing my breath,
stimulating echos in the wind.

Droplets of scent
I know you
by your scent.

So if you aren’t voting for Trump because you do not personally care for his “character”

I would love to know what Democrat you are voting for….but more specifically why you are voting for them?  What is it about the Democratic party platform that appeals to you?

As far as I can tell – correct me if I’m mistaken but the Democratic platform is for – less guns, making sure God is removed from most things, same sex marriage, the separation of church and state (with again the removal of the church/God and keeping prayer out of schools or anywhere else), insuring abortion rights and making sure that late term, even live birth abortions are protected, socialism in the form of free many things (health care, education, etct), removing funding from our military even to the extent they were upset we took out a terrorist.

So far is all of this an adequate depiction?  So other than not liking is “personal character” (because that is the most important criteria for a president right?) what are you against that President Trump is enacting in action for our country?

President Trump’s State of the Union message, coupled with the Democratic response, reminds me of why I voted for Trump in 2016. And why I plan to vote for him again in 2020. The contrasts are just too extreme. I am conscience-bound to vote against the radical left and to vote for the causes that Trump will uphold. Everything else pales in comparison.

I am voting against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tearing up the president’s speech for the whole world to see.

But no one can deny that Americans, across the board, are doing better financially under the current administration.

And so, when I vote for Trump, I am voting against the socialism of potential Democratic nominee like Sen. Bernie Sanders. The effects of his proposed policies, along with those of other leading candidates, would be disastrous.

I feel conscience bound to cast my vote, a vote that will be meaningful.

I am also voting against every Democrat (including Speaker Pelosi) who chose to sit rather than stand when the president called on Congress to ban late-term abortions.

My conscience doesn’t allow me to skip the election because Trump does not live up to all my ideals. Nor does it allow me to cast a protest vote for another candidate who cannot possibly win.

Maybe that’s what your conscience dictates, but not mine.

And so, I will cast my vote against the policies of the radical left, including the abusive policies of sanctuary cities that are lax in punishing illegal immigrants who engage in criminal behavior.

But I will also cast my vote for many of the things the president stands for. Things that are precious to me. Things that should be precious to all people of faith, in particular, to followers of Jesus.

I am voting for the man who called for school choice initiatives, which will enable many families to pull their children out of state-run schools and enroll them in private, preferred schools.

And I am voting for the man who said at the State of the Union “… I am also calling upon members of Congress tonight to pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion of babies.”

Say it loud and clear, Mr. President.

This is also the man who, as White House reporter Gabby Orr noted, “has routinely called on Congress to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would make abortion after 20 weeks unlawful in most cases.”

And I am voting for the man who said, “I have signed legislation to stamp out the menace of human trafficking domestically and all around the globe.”

As noted again by Gabby Orr, “Last week, Trump announced the creation of a new position inside the White House Domestic Policy Council ‘solely devoted’ to combatting sex and labor trafficking. The president’s daughter, senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump, has worked closely with outside groups, members of the president’s Cabinet and lawmakers on anti-human trafficking policies.”

I am voting for the man who noted that he “recommended 180 new judges to uphold our Constitution as written. This includes Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.”

The implications of this are generational in scope.

And I am voting for the man who is “defending religious liberty. That includes the constitutional right to pray in public schools.”

Yes, I am voting for the man who said, “In America, we don’t punish prayer, we don’t ban symbols of faith, we don’t muzzle preachers and pastors. In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer and we raise our sights to the glory of God.”

I am also voting for the man who is “defending national security and combating radical Islamic terrorism,” and that starts with not being afraid to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism.”

I am voting for the man who faced down Iran, and who said, “Our message to terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice. If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life.”

That’s what (and who) I am voting against, and that’s what (and who) I am voting for.

Can you imagine how different things would have been under President Hillary Clinton? Or under a future President Bernie Sanders? Or President Elizabeth Warren?

That, my Never Trumper friends, is why I cast my vote.

I strongly encourage you to reconsider your stance.

Day 31: You are Loved

I find it interesting, even in the Christian world, those who say I love you but I don’t love you because you did this once, or because you aren’t measuring up, or because I loved you today but I don’t tomorrow. Commitment and choice are love. Feelings are just feeling fantasies of love.

As the devotional calls it transactional love: I love you as long as you make me feel loved. It is no wonder so many friendships, marriages, relationships and family ties fall apart. As long as you behavior in wearing the mask I need to see you as I’ll love you but do something to hurt me and I no longer do.

God loves us without keeping score. He already says I know you are not deserving of my love but you are more precious to me than anything. That is the love that a relationship should be built on. So we settle for people that say I love you but I can’t love the past you, or that you did this, or that I think this….when in fact that isn’t love it is just all about them.

Love is making a commitment no matter what there is no out clause. That is Christ like love.

Love not returned:

How should we like it were starts to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If give and share of love can’t be,
Let the more loving one be me.

DAY 30: GOD’S WAY IS SIMPLE

Salvation is so simple yet we make it so complicated. Life is pretty simple yet we do the same to that too. I smiled at spend your money while you are here because you can’t take it with you. I just had a conversation about how some people get so tied up in “mine” my money, my house, mine mine mine! At the end of the day it isn’t ours. Someone saves for retirement only to die within a month. What good did it do them? Someone turned down inviting people into their home because they didn’t have time for them. I love this definition between a “helper” and a “servant”. I love giving to people and serving. I know there is a balance as I have to remind myself that I also have to fill my tea kettle. Sometimes I would rather do something I want to do than be at an event but someone else is depending on me or needs me. That is serving. Life really is a beautiful gift.

DAY 29: LOVE OF GOD

How do we love people if we don’t see them through a gaze of love? It makes us feel good to say we are helping the orphaned, the widows, the poor – yet there are so many that are hurting: the person we say we love that we treat with indifference, our neighbor, our brother, a church member. We look for those that we can “feel good” about serving and make an instant impact with but then we’ve done are “feel good” good dead with no strings attached and can go on our way. Yet what if we see someone that we really have to invest time, energy and comittment into instead of just a 30 minute quick feel good to make an impact. I am so grateful that my Grandmother instilled in me to never know a stranger, to help all in need, to not be so judgemental because someone is “sinning” and they don’t have their act together right at that moment. I’m also grateful people love me when I’m not perfect. We all need the love of God – some just find it little by little.

 

Day 28: Faith & Outrageous Dreams: God is a God of big dreams, big love, big action. He doesn’t want us to put our time and energy into something or someone that is indifferent or apathetic to a relationship with us, but instead to pour all of our love into something mutual. Dream & Love Big without fear.

On this day once upon a time…

March for Life – 2020!

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17; NKJV)

Give Him 15 minutes in prayer:

•This is a somber day. Consider fasting and praying.
•Decree over the proceedings today, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24; ESV)
•Pray that President Trump will seek the Lord for His wisdom, His teaching in righteousness, and that he may walk in God’s truth. (Psalm 86:11). Pray that he will come to know the rest of God and let God fight his battles. (Exodus 14:14)
•Declare Isaiah 54:17 above over President Trump.
•Proclaim over every Senator and person involved in the process today: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8; NASB)

A prayer you can pray:

Father, we humble ourselves before Your great and mighty Name today. We come to You in the name of Jesus. We are grieving over the state of our nation’s government. Never have we seen such animosity and division. There is so much hatred, and from that hatred there is a determination from some to remove President Trump from office whatever it takes. We honor the U. S. Constitution and ask that the Constitution will be followed and justice will be sought. Let the fear of the Lord fall in that Senate Chamber. Fall on each one present and let even the hardest of hearts understand the weight of these circumstances and of this moment in history. Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

This is not a time for jesting and laughing at a duly elected President’s expense. The nation is watching and the nation will act next November according to what they see and perceive. We pray that You would also guard the president’s words and actions, not just his opposition’s. May President Trump come to know You better in this moment. May he learn to trust in You completely, letting You fight his battles for him. He must find a way to walk in self-control, trusting You and the advisers You have given him, so that You may say over him, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me.” We proclaim Your Word over every Senator and House Manager, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” We declare these things in accordance with Your Word, Jesus, precious Word of God, amen.

Today’s decree:

Let the fear of the Lord be upon the impeachment trial for President Donald J. Trump.

My brain is floating with words and my heart with joy. So I’ve been meeting the other readers on-line in my launch team. From stay at home mothers, counselors, family of the author and one lady who has a fur-baby. It has been very interesting as everyone is from all walks of life, backgrounds, some from Canada, Germany, France, North Carolina, Iowa and more – yet everyone has something in common: we love God and want to have a closer walk with him. Some have accepted this because they really do suffer from anxiety and fear, others want to be servants helping those who have these things and I guess my reason is to both personally grow and to be of purpose to where God uses me.

I really feel God uses me for the purpose of listening. “I need to talk to someone but I can’t share this with anyone or I really need some support and yet I feel alone.” That is where God often places me.

As I start my new bible study for this year too…I’m excited to see how God grows and stretches me as my walk to be a good partner, to be a useful heart in His kingdom and just to draw people towards him in whatever way he sees.

From one of my devotions today on growing as a partner:

Here are five rules for serving your partner. You can remember them by the acronym SERVE:

S: Supply what your partner needs in spite of what you need, want or understand. In counseling couples over the years, unmet needs are one of the major issues I’ve encountered. One partner tells the other what he or she needs, but the other refuses to acknowledge that need or work on fulfillment of that need.

Men and women are completely different and have different needs. When we ask our partner to meet a certain need, we want him or her to listen first, then strive to meet that need—whether it makes sense to them or not. What they are saying is, “I can’t do this myself. I need you to supply it for me.” In other words, it doesn’t matter what you want or understand. It matters what your partner wants.

E: Enjoy serving your partner and do it with a joyful attitude. Let’s say you approach your partner and say, “Honey, I need this from you.” And then they roll their eyes or make fun of you. Or they just ignore you. When any of these things happen, the partner with a need feels rejected.

The first reason God created us is to serve Him, but the second reason He created us is for a committed intimate relationship. That is our purpose, which means your partner should never feel like a burden to you. You serve them happily and gratefully.

R: Reject scorekeeping. Instead, serve with a spirit of grace and faith. In the past, I’ve taught about serving your partner and heard afterward from people who say, “Well, my partner is bad. They don’t deserve it. If I serve them, it will just encourage their selfish behavior. They need to repent first.”

I understand that thinking, but if we are following the example of Jesus, we have to remember that He loved us while we were yet sinners. He loves whether we deserve it or not. That’s grace. If your partner is doing the wrong thing, your best approach is still to do the right thing. This is called redemptive love. It means giving even when you don’t want to give, and trusting God to use your sacrificial love to redeem your partner and help mold their heart into being a loving partner.

V: Vigilantly protect the priority of your relationship. A committed relationship is so important that it has to be given priority in your life. In many of today’s relationships, people are just too tired to meet each other’s needs. They serve and take care of everyone else – be it other family members, friends, church or at work. And then they are too tired to serve each other. It is vital to remember your partner deserves your best not the left overs of your time, energy, love and life.

We should tell each other, “You come first. You get the first and best of my energies.” That’s God’s plan and we have to protect it with careful attention.

E: Expect to be blessed. Remember Jesus’ promise? “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” He says that, if we humble ourselves and serve, we will be exalted. We have to trust that He will honor and bless us for following His example of sacrificial, redemptive love.

A relationship can be a challenge, but it always works best when two people are committed to serving one another. The strongest relationship begin with two servants in love. If you want to change your relationship, make the decision today to start serving your partner—then trust God for the results.

Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy relationship has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset.

THE ASPEN + THE OAK TREE

Praying…
Praying for love means that you learn to take ownership of your role in the equation of a relationship. You are 50% of the equation of how healthy (or unhealthy) your relationship e is going to be. It’s easy to get so fixated on that person you want to be with. It’s easy to give God your wish-list and ask him to grant your desires for love. But healthy people dig much deeper than that, because they know that they’re level of personal health is what’s going to determine the health of their future relationship.They know that being a good partner is so important.

So what steps are you taking to pray through your struggles and overcome them? How often are you inviting God into those dark places of your life and heart, and accepting His healing in your life? What areas from your past still have a grip on you that you have not let God cover with grace? How are you praying through your insecurities/fears and allowing God’s identity to shape and transform you? You need to be praying for love, but sometimes the best way to do that starts from the inside-out.  Are you praying to be a good partner or just have a good partner?

Pray for your heart. It’s important not to see this time as a time of simply waiting, but a time of preparation. So let your prayer for love start with this! Ask God to prepare your heart for love, to teach you trust, to give you purpose, and to give you hope.

Pray for your journey. Life is a journey that’s unfolding. You have accountability in your relationship.  It is nice to say I’m leaving it to God but just like your salvation at some point you have to say Yes. You’re either going to be enjoying living it, or sitting around waiting for the perfect time. The perfect time to find a partner, the perfect time to be a partner and the perfect time doesn’t exist.  If you find yourself caught in a pattern of standing still, maybe it’s time to ask God to show you how you can start living your life rather than wasting it away in the hopes for the “right time”. 

A prayer for love isn’t just some fairy dust that we sprinkle on our lives, or a star that we wish upon. Prayer is powerful, it’s meaningful, and it’s effective. Prayer doesn’t just change our situation – it changes us from the inside out. So I believe deep down you know what you need to do to have a good and healthy relationship and to be a good partner. Start praying for your love life today.

I want to grow old with you.

Blackjack gum, moonlight swims, have you ever heard a rainbow or seen a lady bug? I should never leave you even for a glass of water.

Ah yes that glass of water. River, life, flowing, standing still, swirling, pulling, drowning, releasing, renewal.

12 years …12 years tomorrow.

Check

You didn’t come with a warning label…nor did I ask for one. I believed each word, each breath, each touch, each look. Like an Aspen tree…rooting deeper and deeper into your earth with each one, each glance, each intimate sharing.

The silence is broken: into the nature.
My soul sails out carrying the song of my promise, your promise
 To meet the flowers and birds. A promise of HinH.

I am like a leaf, hanging over the Oak tree of hope fulfilled and longing withered….which trembles and blends.
My hearts imagination and ghost of what is.

A cocoon wrapped in love, not neatly but knowing becoming a butterfly with no wings to fly. What is a butterfly to do if she cannot fly?

Eagles nest tower, smoke em if you got em, did we make up some slack?

As a flicker sails in its way, up and down as it seeks a limb to stand on.

And grains of sand run…bleed…then quietly dive into the river from where they came.

Once upon a time 12 years ago tomorrow.

Check

Last year I was invited to sign up to be on a launch team for the reading of “Hope When It Hurts” It was an amazing experience. The fellowship I have found with other women in bible study (both at church and on-line) are so beautiful. I find especially the on-line ones that I can fit it into my daily schedule when I have lull times or just needing a little time with my Heavenly Dad.

So I’m super excited to be part of the same launch team only this time it is about Fear. We all have some type of fears. And those who know me have said my greatest fear has already came true. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t other things that concern me or us. I’m not one that worries or fears or is anxious much. Yet I do know that even in the little details the Devil uses anything he can get a foot hold on. Boy do I know.

I’m excited to learn more about guarding my own heart and helping those around me when I can. The book isn’t out for public sale until February. It should be an interesting month as I also study Philippians and one on-line study called Rythms of Renewal. I hope to share some of the details with you as I journey.

A partner is someone who does not judge you for your flaws. A partner is someone who sees your jagged edges, who sees the parts of you that have been weathered by love and by life, who sees the wars that you fight, and who chooses to stand beside you. A partner is someone who watches as you confront your scars from the inside; always encouraging you to heal on your own time, in your own way; always encouraging you to keep going.

A partner is someone who challenges you to challenge yourself. Someone who sees the potential that courses through your bones, and who lets you know exactly what you are capable of.

See, a partner is someone who is not afraid of your growth. They do not feel the need to close you off or to build walls of protection. They do not feel inadequate when they see you soar, when they see something new within you spark. A partner is someone who knows that you are building yourself into someone you are proud of, and that is so beautiful to them — that is because they love you for you.

So no, a partner does not complete you — they inspire you to complete yourself. A partner is the person who supports your direction, who motivates and encourages you to stretch, to change, to reinvent yourself with faith, grace and love. A partner is someone who loves you with so much conviction, and so much heart, that it is nearly impossible to doubt that together the two of you can overcome anything.

Have you seen this woman…

Actually, at times I’ve not loved her well in moments of her life. I’ve fed her untruths and told her she wasn’t good enough and have allowed others to tell her she isn’t good enough too.

I’ve allowed her to be broken. I’ve allowed others to treat her disrespectfully. I’ve allowed her to run through brick walls and battle for others who won’t even stand up for her or stand beside her.

I couldn’t stop others from abandoning her, letting go of her hand, but I’ve seen her stand up and be a light for the world and love others despite all that.
I have stood quiet while she fought battles in her mind, heart and soul.

This woman has screwed up many times as a partner, daughter, aunt and as a friend because she truly didn’t value her worth, that she was worthy of self love that she gives to others, that she should be loved for exactly who she is. She based “loved” on the definition of being loved by human standards instead of by God’s standards. She had forgotten, but it is now etched in her soul.

She has a stubborn streak, and she has things only she knows that are part of her. She has scars because she has a history.

Some people love this woman, some like her, and some don’t care for her at all… But she is really truly loving herself, the way God loves her. She has done good in her life, she has not done so good in her life but she knows God’s love isn’t based on works or lack there of…it is based on who she is.

Every mistake, failure, trial, disappointment, success, joy and achievement has made her into who she is today.  She is ever so grateful for her journey.

She is dramatic and sometimes she is scatter-brained. Never again will she be kept hidden a secret by someone who says they love her…hidden is not love. She will not pretend to be who she is not. She will make no apologies for who she is. Never will she again.

This woman is a WARRIOR.
She’s not perfect, but she has a lot of WORTH. She’s UNSTOPPABLE. Her worth is in who GOD says SHE IS.

Gracefully broken, but beautifully standing.

She is LOVE.
She is LIFE.
She is TRANSFORMATION.
She is GRACE.
She is BRAVE.

… and she will never stop growing or moving forward…and she knows she is so worth being loved.

❤

She is me ……. ️

I spent the last 10 days waking when my body stirred, drifting when eyes said to close, enjoying a quiet cup of steam and taking a nature explore walk to see the changing of the blades of grass as the snow covered them in a deep gentle blanket. I listened to my breath, felt the beatings of my heart and spent time in grateful prayers.

I contemplated what it would be like dying, knowing I was taking my last breath, what that may feel like. I pondered knowing that each day I am dying, all of us are – yet some know their time is limited do to an illness or life’s journey and yet those who have survived death to live another day and what those moments must feel like. Then I smiled at knowing some think they have all the time in the world to love, to say I love you, to do what they want when they retire…and yet their grains of sand run out long before they ever dream. I wonder what that person thinks on their last breath who thought they had all the time in the world…yet found out they didn’t.

Nature is an amazing force. The weight of the snow as it hugged the trees, at first gently and then ever so tightly. The wind devouring a blade of grass, changing the trajectory of life, bringing all to a sudden and quiet standstill. The sun, its ever warming beams as they penetrate the coldness returning life and order.

As I awoke one morning, the sun peaking through the curtain gently caressing my face, saying come to me, come see what new details I have awaiting your gaze, let me surround you in wonderment as you sleepily open to take in all the scents around you….smiling I finished my cup of steam and slid toes into non-fashioned boots to begin my grand exploration.

Love & Trust in 2019

So this seems to be a re-occurring them with certain people in my life. Not many but at least one I can think of. Don’t do this, because what will people think? Oh you are associated with this person but not in the way I think you should. I find it interesting that God charges me with MY behavior. Not yours, not this person’s or that person’s….MINE. See if you aren’t living authentic – yes it impacts me – but I am responsible for my actions and re-actions. If you have lust, unforgiveness, greed, ego, whatever it is in your heart. You are accountable not me. I have no problem being with anyone at anytime and being authentic about it. If you are doing something that negatively impacts your life – than you are accountable for it. I am not.

I’ve found people who have something either in their own tool box that they need to look in the mirror and deal with or like to take their journey and deflect it onto others say don’t do this or you be accountable for this person’s moral behavior. Nope – not my circus and not my monkeys.

See I am in no way perfect and stumble at times. So I know to watch MY behavior and actions but the actions of other people – while they can color my canvas – I am not accountable for or responsible for. God has delivered me from my past, from bondage and from brokenness. I am grateful and I wish to be a continual work in progress for the better until the day I go to my Heavenly home.

I have given my best to a relationship of someone I love. I have and am trying to be the best person in God’s daughter circle I can be. I am a good friend and pretty good earthly daughter, sister and aunt. I try hard daily to just be a good soul on this earth and some days with God’s help more qualified than others. I know I’m not perfect and I don’t expect to be – I also don’t except others to be, my partner, my family, my friends. What I won’t do is be responsible for your actions or your accountability. What I do expect from them is to show up, to be accountable for their actions, for them to live their truths. I am grateful that the one thing I do not have time for is not being authentic. If one cannot live their soul – what is the point of living at all.

At the end of this journey God is not going to ask me how my actions got you to Heaven, did I make sure you walked perfectly on this journey, that you were seen to be good and moral or whatever it is you wish to call it. So I really don’t have to concern myself with that. What I do ask myself is if I am a good partner, am I a good friend, am I a good xyz. And at the end of this life God is going to ask me to be accountable for MY actions and if I believe His Son died on the cross, took away our sins and rose again? That is the most important question I will ever answer.

So the next time someone tries to hold you accountable for another person’s actions….tell them thank you for their concern. If they were really concerned about you I’m guessing they would be holding your hand and walking beside you….that is love. Everything else is projection and lack of accountability. I pray and plant seeds that everyone I know will have eternal salvation, but God is the one that changes hearts. My advice – spend time being accountable for your truth, your authenticity, your actions and you won’t have so much time to worry about people pleasing, what others think or other’s actions because you’ll be too busy working on being the best son or daughter of God that you can be. Everything else is a choice that follows – being a good partner, being a good friend, etc.

So thank you for your concern and be concerned about your soul. It’s the only one you have.

I Asked the River

‘Why do you run?’ I asked the river,
‘So fast I can’t compete.’
‘I run,’ the river said, ‘because
I have some streams to meet.’

‘Where do you go?’ I asked the river,
‘And what do you do there?’
‘I go to the valley,’ the river said,
‘Where I wash the rushes’ hair.’

‘Why do you sing?’ I asked the river,
‘Such a sweet and happy tune?’
‘Because,’ the river smiled,
‘I’m having lunch with the sea at noon.’

‘Why do you laugh?’ I asked the river,
‘You’ll share the joke I suppose?’
‘I woke the mountain,’ the river grinned,
‘By tickling his toes.’

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I want to eat your skin like a whole almond

 

I keep seeing this…like it is a touch from the Heavens. Maybe it floated softly to me as the white feather landed in my path.

If I was loved the way I love…

Committed. Loyal. Completely. With Passion and excitement. With faithfulness. With anticipation of being together in the little and big moments of life.

Sharing sunsets, long walks, holding hands always. Morning sleep ins and kisses. Of steam shared under the covers listening to the sound of geese and cranes symphony in the background.

If I was loved how I loved. It would be equally yoked. Attending church and praying together would be important.

No hiding or secrets unless it was a flirtatious secret between the two of us. A wingman without allowed or compartments. To be inclusive and wanted with at any and everything because of being the most special person in the world to someone. What is important is important to both – be it something silly or serious, be it easy or hard, because I am included in part of a team.

Always receiving the benefit of the doubt. That what is said matters and when I say I’m sorry it isn’t just a word. It is working hard to be a good partner, to have a good foundation and healthy relationship.

If I was loved the way I loved it would not be acting single when my heart and actions say I’m not but acting as a couple, acting with the other person in mind and our relationship. It would be with worth, and grace and gratitude that the love and life could be shared with anyone but was chosen to be shared by two specific people together. I would be fought for, pursued, loved and stood up for because having each others backs is so important.

If I was loved the way I loved – the most important thing would be being loved completely for being….for being me. Past, present, future included. Knowing God’s got this and saved by grace is amazing. To be valued and loved not reminded of past things or blamed for them. Never having to continually prove worth, trust or grace because it is a given known.

If I loved the way I love it would be without fear. It would be without an out clause. It would be filled with snuggles and cups of coffee and water play dates. It would be putting up the Christmas tree together and celebrating each others birthdays and celebrating because it’s Saturday and today we are together. It would be an occasional sneak away at lunch and mini road trips together and dancing in the kitchen. It would be not I have to hold your hand but I can’t wait to and want to.

It would be taking turns deciding what to do today and where to go. Of spending it just the two of us and at other times with others. Of inviting and being invited. It would be sharing the joys and laughter and life.

It would be knowing that when I am sick or not feeling well or if someday something should happen and I would need taken care of that there would be a hand to hold walking beside me. Even without such a day, knowing that my hand would never know the feeling of rejection or loneliness or abandonment because there is a hand made just for mine that never wishes me to feel these things or know them.

If I was loved the way I love – little cards, little gifts, little notes just to say I love you. Texts and kisses in the morning steam light and snuggle text and holds at night saying I am grateful for you. And when the moments occur that we are apart that these never cease because I am the one and only one to come home to at the end of the day.

If I loved the way I loved two hearts would beam from knowing that love is a precious gift that is only here until the grains of sand run out, but how beautiful those grains of sand will be while we each are here.

 

Is it possible that grief is implicated in illness and a higher risk of death?

Actually, yes. Grief suppresses the immune system, making it more likely for grieving people to get sick — ranging from a mild illness like a cold to something potentially life-threatening, such as a serious infection.

I was thinking about this today, and it isn’t the first time, that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” I wear a tree of life necklace most days that reminds me of this and so many little things. That love never lived is a hope deferred. A life never shared or shared in compartments or secrets is a hope crumbled. One can love with the strength and depth of ten thousand oceans but if it is never lived in action it is deferred.

Today I am struggling. I miss my Grandmother and the hope that I have for a future has been deferred. What I thought was something to hold onto is only my reality and not a real reality at all.

I know God holds me under his wing and that someday it will be ok, but today isn’t one of those days. It seems like the sky is falling and I can only let it fall. And hold onto the touch of a little feathered touch from the Heavens as it gently falls.

A relationship starts with a friendship – at least I believe the best ones do. Just like a partnership relationship it isn’t something we deserve it is something we “earn” it is something we “are” …it is something we “give” & “live”.

You see, friendship isn’t deserved, it’s something we give. Friendship might just be extending a hand. Seeing another person. Caring more about kindness.

It’s something we value.

It’s relationships that we form and a whole bunch of forgiveness.

When we think we deserve something all the responsibility shifts from us to them, and instead of investing we think, “what is wrong with me?” It’s moving from expecting to being the giver. It’s daring to step out of comfortable even in the face of rejection.

It’s valuing of connection more than perfection. It’s valuing relationships.

It’s risky.

It means sharing the raw places of life because truth be told, we all have them. We all have stories that have grit and messiness and hardships and friendship happens when we realize we are all in this place of failing and trying again and again and again and the failing times are really the times where we discover strength and purpose and community.

Friendship goes so beyond the surface of likes and play dates and looking like we have it together.

Friendship is being inconvenienced and not knowing what to say but being there. Friendship is waking at three am and answering phone calls.
It’s in sitting side by side at hospital beds.
It’s in telling your friends, “I believe in you. I see your strength. Stand up. We are going to keep pushing.”
It is in being there in the moments that aren’t pretty.

It’s nothing we deserve.

It’s something we fight for and get messy with.

It’s something where we give of self for the greater good.

It’s something where we link arms and march together.

It’s something sacred because it’s something valued.

And the beauty, the power in it, happens when we simply see each other with love. Love for where they are. Love for our paths crossing.

Love.

So today, look around.

Look at those who show up for you. Honor them. Say thank you. Be a friend. Notice. Give back. Link arms.

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts.

A gift that is a gift because afterwards we see how all the work, investment, tears, forgiveness and love truly mattered most.

 

 

Today, I’m challenged to love, more than I want to be loved. Because of a God who poured out His love for me- expecting, and often times receiving, nothing in return. There is a challenge to love our partners more.

I’m taking up the challenge to pray this verse daily over my life, asking God to refine and redefine my view of love, giving me a radical desire to love my partner even more than I want to be loved. Take the challenge with me by reading the passage below, filling your name in the blank, and let’s pray this prayer together. 

I want to be a better lover. Because no matter what my life and relationship brings…LOVE always starts with me. Will you join me? 

________________never gives up.

_______________ cares more for my partner than for self.

_______________ doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

_______________ doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force my way on my partner.

_______________ isn’t always “me first,”

_______________ doesn’t fly off the handle, keep score of the sins of my partner, or revel when my partner makes a mistake or asks for forgiveness.

_______________ takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, being authentic

_______________searches to grow with my partner and be a good partner

_______________Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, and Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Lord, give me a love that never fails.

May God grant us an unfailing love that overflows into the life of our partner. Whoever you are, and whatever you’re going through….Love on.

I’m so excited. Two more weeks of Romans and today I start a bible study on Gratefulness and gifts. It arrives at the time of Thanksgiving and at a time that I could really use this study.

One of my devotionals today is on relationship values.

  • Autonomy: freedom from external control in your relationship (two + God).
  • Certainty: having one’s basic needs met.
  • Character: living congruently with one’s values.
  • Communication: clear exchange and expression of information together.
  • Confidence: steadfast action in the face of challenges together.
  • Compassion: logical understanding of each others’ struggles.
  • Curiosity: desire to question anything and freedom to do so together.
  • Focus: sustained concentration on growth and strength of relationship.
  • Freedom: discipline coupled with the ability to walk away from anything together.
  • Free speech: ability to say what needs to be said.
  • Grace: unearned love. Extremely important.
  • Gratitude: appreciation and kindness; celebration of circumstances, good or bad. Grateful for one’s partner.
  • Humility: clarity of self.
  • Humor: ability to laugh and to laugh together.
  • Insight: the product of information, knowledge, and wisdom.
  • Integrity: wholeness; when one’s values are congruent with their actions. Consistency.
  • Intimacy: shared close connections with each other.
  • Leadership: ability to inspire one another and move them in the same direction.
  • Listening: hear what others say to understand their point of view.
  • Mobility: flexibility.
  • Morality: consistently doing what’s right.
  • Quality: better but fewer; the result of intention.
  • Resources: skills, time, energy, attention, and investment in relationship.
  • Respect: admiration for abilities, qualities, and achievements.
  • Responsibility: willingness to make things better for each other.
  • Restraint: ability to avoid impulse that negatively impact relationship.
  • Self-care: maintenance of personal well-being. Growth individually.
  • Sexuality: sharing intimate experiences with a committed trusted partner.
  • Significance: after God – the relationship is the most important.
  • Solitude: quality time together.
  • Stillness: freedom from external influence.
  • Trust: ability to rely on each other and support one another.
  • Truth: authentic and living real world.
  • Variety: embraced uncertainty; diversity of experience. Celebrate each others differences.
  • Vision: ability to make decisions today that will serve the greater good of your relationship together tomorrow.
  • Vulnerability: courage to act irrespective of outcome to have a healthy relationship together.
  • Wisdom: learned experience that allows us to avoid unnecessary suffering together and grow through the trails.

Love. It is an interesting word isn’t it. If you look it up the definition of it is this: “an intense feeling of deep affection.” If that is what most people think love means, no wonder we have broken relationships, people who just change partners like changing shoes, giving up when there are boulders or trials – because love is just a “feeling” and when you no longer feel in love or feel loved you can just move on, let go of hands and walk away right?

“For God so loved that world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

That is love. Love isn’t just a feeling it is an action, a commitment – it is I will hold your hand no matter what. Marriage is not a feeling it is a covenant. If it is just a feeling or a legal contract – those can always go away and be broken.

I’m so grateful that God commands me to love like Him. I cannot do it perfectly but he says keep trying. I’m tired of people in relationships saying I love you but I can walk out when I don’t want to do something that requires change or is hard, I don’t want to invest or do the work to be a good partner I just want to be loved. Grow up! I’m also tired of people who call themselves Christians and yet live in unforgivenesss and that they are so much better than the person who’s past was this or that doesn’t exactly have it all together. I pray you never go through the exact thing that you are judging someone else for. A true Christian in my book doesn’t get to say I love like God loves but I never forgive.

Love is never letting go of a hand, love is showing up, loving is living in action being a good partner because you want the best relationship and to be the best partner because your partner deserves that. It is about forgiveness and grace and seeing the positive and good in someone.

I had a younger woman come up to me outside of bible study and said thank you for being a friend and not judging me. Judgement is the quickest way to get someone to leave the church and the area needed for them to be to continue to grow in God. I don’t think the song says – come to me after you are perfect. It says “Just as I Am”. That is how we are to love. We are to love just as that person is and that person. I don’t think we should expect that they will never grow or change but that is God’s job to change their hearts not mine nor yours.

I believe, especially in this day and age..open your eyes to see and your heart to love, Jesus is saying, long before you open your mouth. Make sure things are in proper focus first, lest you realize on the Last Day that you were looking at image-bearers of God through the wrong end of the microscope. Do not be self-righteousness as it is the art of always being most bothered by somebody else’s sin.

If you could make a list of each person you criticized last week, and a list of each person you encouraged, which would be longer? And what about your partner or closest friends: would they describe you as more fluent in the language of criticism or of encouragement?

Ultimately, only one thing can uproot hypocrisy, can replace a desire to criticize with an impulse to encourage, can slay a judgmental spirit: humility. And this comes from the grace extended to us in Christ. If I stop and think how much God loves, forgives, extends grace to me, and gives me chance after chance – then how do I say that I have the “right” to not extend this things that I so did not deserve to someone else.

That is my definition of love. That is how I wish to love to the best of my abilities is how He loves.

You can tell someone you love them and that you have no desire to fix them. Whether it is to someone you are romantic with, or friends with, or a parent/sibling/child of, the moment you cease all responsibility for their behavior it becomes the moment authentic is created.

I can be the be the best and healthiest partner I can be. I can take accountability for my 1/2 of the relationship making it healthy, strong, loving, honest, but I have to face reality – I cannot fix a relationship that doesn’t have two people fully authentic and doing all they can to have a healthy honest, loving relationship.

People want to share their pain, their suffering, their anxiety, and their fear. More often than not, they seek out fixers, those who will take ownership of their mess and step into piles of shit with them. People also want to “fix” other people, often sacrificing their own happiness and joy in the process. We are often so conditioned that love is only real if it includes an abundant willingness to suffer, and we want to so desperately prove how much we love in our relationships that we will forget the truest source of all love — the love we have for ourselves and that love is living it – being able to show love, give love and receive love.

A relationship needs to be fully lived and real. The best advice I’ve read is this: The more authentic each person is the healthier your relationship with be. Without honest authenticity there is no foundation.

If one or both people have a constant need to please others, but feeling he or she never succeeds in that effort or base their self worth on the opinions of others – be it their partner, kids, friends, etc. the relationship will always suffer.

If one person needs constant “approval be it as a mother, a father, a friend, a lover instead of finding their self worth in God they will always be searching, empty and people pleasing. It can be anyone we seek approval from when we have not learned to find that approval within ourselves through the eyes of God.

You can love someone and realize you have no accountability in their role as a good partner. Only when the hammer used suddenly becomes too heavy to hold, and the fractures habitually created harmful and negative relationship behaviors does the heart bleed real blood. There is a need of repair, but not by any person other than the one looking back in the mirror.

I keep praying to realize and that I really am realizing, that the truest sense of love comes not in fixing someone or fixing a relationship , but in not taking ownership of their repair. Your truest love emanates from your sense of self, and you have no desire to fix a partner or have them fix you. You can walk, run, or sit based on needs the meet your purpose – what God says is a loving, authentic, committed relationship without being accountable if someone else does the same.

When you stop being the fixer you can truly love someone with all of you, and not just the part of you carrying the toolbox. When you no longer see yourself in need of repair, you can love yourself and others beyond that cracked area of you that once needed to be filled. When the bandages are no longer the only part that can be seen, the healthy parts of you will flourish and unite with the healthy parts of a partner. You will not see others in how broken they are, but in how powerful they are. You will stand on your own next to a partner standing on their own, and you can then walk together freely in authenticity and in healthy love.

Love is not the fixer, or the broken, or the wounded. Love is the selfless act that makes nothing broken, or wounded, or in need of repair. Love is the soul that rises from the ashes and the spirit that growls in the moonless night. Love is not the hand but the sword it carries. Love is not the rope but the blade that shreds it. When all seems lost you can count on love not to heal anything, but to stand by the one healing. When the twilight comes and the sun takes forever to rise, love is not the one pushing the sun above the horizon but rather the one shivering next to you in the cold. Love is not the one sewing your wounds closed, but the one holding your hand as the needle pierces your flesh. Love is not the healer. Love is the one who stands by you while you heal yourself.

So when the one who loves you dearly says to you, “I cannot help you,” she is in pain right next to you. She is writhing and wincing in the agony she shares by your side. Yet, her love for you has her remain idle for she knows in her heart that real love is found in the allowing space for the strength you are realizing, the truth you are discovering and the power you are finding not in what others opinions are, but in your own self image of how God sees you. When your view of you, your partner and your relationship matches how God views with love, grace, forgiveness and authenticity that is when love can blend, live and grow. What greater love is there to offer than such a truth? What greater love is there to say core authentic love is the most beautiful love there is and that is the only foundation.

I just finished my final week 5 on surrender. It has been one of my most favorite and difficult bible studies. Surrendering means letting God. He called me accountable yet he also calls me his daughter.

This week is on how God has created in me a new woman. I find it interesting that there is only certain people that seem to want me make sure they paint me in a past light. I don’t pay any attention, but when it is someone you love that does that, it hurts to the core. Yet God told me today – I am not accountable or in charge of anything or anyone but me.

I don’t have to try harder, I don’t have to be more perfect or go to church more or “show” anyone how much my life really has changed. Because at the end of the day their opinion is just that – an opinion. God told me loud and clear this morning. Rest in me. You are amazing. You are loved. You are a new woman. You have so much love to give. You are a good partner. You will continue to grow. And oh how much he loves me. (and you too incase you were wondering). You don’t have to get it right all the time. I don’t have to get it right all the time. All that Jesus asks of us is the willingness to follow and the bravery to surrender our lives and our story to Him and let Him do the rest. I’m doing what he told me, I’ve been doing it for some time…and even on days I fall – he takes my hand as He never lets go – ever and lifts me back up and says lets continue on. He is the example of the kind of never letting go of a hand relationship that I know each relationship should be like. God is the only One who can see the full story. And, our job is to trust Him enough to surrender.

I’m so grateful my self-worth is found in God.

Gossip is disguised as a friendly invitation for fellowship but contains a disastrous disease inside. Remember someone who gossips to you will gossip about you, and gossip separates friendships (Proverbs 16:28).

Women, is this a man you respect? Could you envision yourself submitting to and following him over the course of your lives together? Do you believe he will care well for you? Will he serve you above himself and encourage your spiritual growth? Is he growing in the characteristics of biblical manhood?

Guys, it’s time to man-up and take the lead in the romance department. God created you to be a pursuer.

Have you ever heard the fairytale about the princess in shining armor? You know the story. She crosses an ocean, slays a dragon and rescues the man she loves?

Wait. You’ve never heard that one?

OK, neither have I.

Why? Because fairytales are always the other way around — the man fights for the woman. He takes the risks. He battles the beast. He pursues her.

Now I realize that fairytales are stereotypical, admittedly even a little sexist. But they do contain a measure of truth. These whimsical tales we learn as children mirror a deep-seated longing in the soul of man and woman.

This article isn’t about fairytales. I bring them up only to highlight what I see as a growing problem in this culture: Christian men who are unwilling to actively pursue a potential partner. Rather than saddling up the proverbial steed, many guys seem to be languishing in the tower, waiting for their princesses to stumble upon them, do the investment and work to have a relationship while they sit back, hang out and just expect to have a great relationship and partner.

If that’s you, then I have some no-nonsense advice: It’s time to man-up and take the lead in the romance department. And don’t hide behind the whole it just isn’t the right time or God will give me a sign. When you meet “the one,” pursuing her with all your heart is the most spiritual thing you can possibly do.

Let me explain.

A few weeks earlier I had received an email from a young man looking for advice. His questions echoed the problem I’d heard lamented from the other side of the gender divide. My interlocutor was plagued with, what seemed to him, insoluble questions: Should he date? If so, how could he be sure he was going for God will and not his own? And what if things didn’t work out? What if and what if?

Talk about over thinking it!

Here is feedback that Kiesling received directly from real-world single Christian women about Christian men.

    “God didn’t create you to be passive. Pursuit seems to be obsolete, but we still want to be pursued.”

    “It seems like men aren’t willing to take the risk, especially since they feel they don’t have to anymore. There are plenty of women who will chase them, yet I won’t. I want a Godly man to pursue me.”

    “Quit saying, ‘I’m waiting on God to bring me my future partner or I’m just waiting for the right time.’ What a cop-out! You’re scared, and you’re afraid of being hurt or rejected.

So why are Christian men not stepping up to the plate? What’s behind this trend? I think there are at least a couple of factors.

First, our increasingly politically correct culture tells guys that women have equal responsibility when it comes to initiating the relationship. These days women are encouraged to be more aggressive while men risk appearing domineering if they get are called to do what God has called them to do.

But here’s the rub. While such political correctness is peddled in higher education and the media, it usually doesn’t apply in the real world, where women still appreciate a man with gumption, guts and a health backbone. “The world may have moved on, become hip and high-tech and politically correct, but old-fashioned values persist in our very make-up.” Part of that make-up is a desire to be pursued.

The second factor is even more pervasive and hazardous to single Christian guys. An exaggerated sense of spiritual propriety can also prevent relationships from forming. I’ve met a lot of guys who seem to equate romantic passivity with spiritual superiority. In these cases the thinking goes something like this: If I wait and pray patiently, God will drop a woman right into my lap.

Such guys could use some advice from my 88-year-old grandfather. He might seem like an unlikely source of dating wisdom, but he gave me a talk during my single days that I think every Christian guy needs to hear.

My grandfather is a retired pastor. Most of his time he spends deep in prayer with a huge King James Bible splayed open on his lap. When he broached the topic of women with me, I wasn’t sure where he’d go. Would he urge caution? Exhort purity? Instead he pointed to a verse that I knew well, Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”

I knew finding a wife was a good thing. Was he trying to rub it in that I was still single?

No, he was pointing out that the verse implied that I had a responsibility in making it happen.

His mouth turned up at one edge.

“Find,” he pointed out, “is a verb.”

Lesson learned.

When I met my future partner, I knew it was my responsibility to pursue the relationship even though I was scared to death and unsure of things. I still remember showing up at her doorstep with flowers in my trembling hands.

I believe it’s the man’s responsibility to initiate and pursue the relationship. But that statement comes with some serious qualifiers.

It’s equally important that we be sensitive in reading women’s signals. Women want us to be proactive, but when the romantic feelings are not mutual, being aggressive is not cool — it’s creepy. Once you’ve made your intentions clear that you wish to pursue her, the ball is in her court. She’ll let you know if her feelings change.

But if you’re one of the myriad men sitting on the fence too scared, waiting for a sign for the right time or too “spiritual” to pursue a woman, it may be time to man-up and make a move. I know taking risks can be daunting. But often the most rewarding journeys begin with uneasy and faltering steps.

A woman wants a man to purse her, protect her, love her, cherish her. Are you that man? Or are you the man just sitting back expecting the woman to do all the relationship work. If so, it is time to take a long look in the mirror and be the kind of partner God has called you to be.

God created you to be a pursuer. So if God brings a godly woman into your life, don’t sit around twiddling your thumbs. The love of your life could pass you by.

Maybe we just grow them with thicker skin in the Sandhills. Maybe people chose to be a victim – because of their past or what happened to them or what their parents did or didn’t do. Life isn’t easy – God never promised us there wouldn’t be struggles. But my God is so much bigger than anyone’s past, what may or may not have happened to them. Sure it takes time but it also takes effort and investment. No one is going to “fix you” not your parents, not your counselor, not your pastor or sister or brother or friendship groups. Support is good but at the end of the day the one in charge of you is you. Blame and shifting accountability onto others is a great bandage until someday your bandage falls off and your left with the man or woman in the mirror – then what? There seems to much wining and finger pointing these days, right down to our political arena. You don’t like My President – who by the way is your President – unless you are moving to a different country – buck up. I didn’t care of the last one either but they sky didn’t fall. Your parents aren’t perfect, neither are your siblings nor are your friends – but guess what buttercup – neither are you. We are all just doing the best we can in this thing called life. It is wonderful to be caring, tender hearted and loving but at some point having a back bone and a set of kahonas is necessary. It’s called doing the work on you.

Trauma Is Not Your Fault, But Healing Is Your Responsibility

 

Trauma Is Not Your Fault, But Healing Is Your Responsibility

 


What happened to you was not your fault.

It was not something you asked for, it was not something you deserved.

What happened to you was not fair.

You were merely collateral damage on someone else’s warpath, an innocent bystander who got wrecked out of proximity.

We are all traumatized by life, some of us from egregious wrongdoings, others by unprocessed pain and sidelined emotions. No matter the source, we are all handed a play of cards, and sometimes, they are not a winning hand.

Yet what we cannot forget is that even when we are not at fault, healing in the aftermath will always fall on us — and instead of being burdened by this, we can actually learn to see it as a rare gift.

Healing is our responsibility because if it isn’t, an unfair circumstance becomes an unlived life.

Healing is our responsibility because unprocessed pain gets transferred to everyone around us, and we are not going to allow what someone else did to us to become what we do to those we love.

Healing is our responsibility because we have this one life, this single shot to do something important.

Healing is our responsibility because if we want our lives to be different, sitting and waiting for someone else to make them so will not actually change them. It will only make us dependent and bitter.

Healing is our responsibility because we have the power to heal ourselves, even if we have previously been led to believe we don’t.

Healing is our responsibility because we are uncomfortable, and discomfort almost always signals a place in life in which we are slated to rise up and transform.

Healing is our responsibility because every great person you deeply admire began with every odd against them, and learned their inner power was no match for the worst of what life could offer.

Healing is our responsibility because “healing” is actually not returning to how and who we were before, it is becoming someone we have never been — someone stronger, someone wiser, someone kinder.

When we heal, we step into the people we have always wanted to be. We are not only able to metabolize the pain, we are able to affect real change in our lives. We are able to pursue our dreams more freely. We are able to handle whatever life throws at us, because we are self-efficient and assured. We are more willing to dare, risk, and dream of broader horizons, ones we never thought we’d reach.

The thing is that when someone else does something wrong and it affects us, we often sit around waiting for them to take the pain away, as though they could come along and undo what has been done.

We fail to realize that in that hurt are the most important lessons of our lives, the fertile breeding ground upon which we can start to build everything we really want.

We are not meant to get through life unscathed.

We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.

Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond — and who we become — that determines whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the victim became the hero of their own journey.

 

I love this song…. #blessed

Prayers are the first gifts you give to your future partner and someday potential husband. Gifts that heaven participates in giving. Heavenly Dad – I am so grateful for your love and kindness in my life. I am so thankful that you truly do have the answers to lasting love and that you created me Shana for a committed, loving partnership relationship. Please help me to continue to align my perspective with yours when it comes to having a loving partner and relationship while creating in my heart and life the ability to be a good partner. Help me to continue to long for a man who loves the Lord and that I can be equally yoked to. Help me to see the priceless value in a man who does, who wants to attend church with me, to grow with me, that treats me with grace and forgiveness, that loves my heart as well as cherishes my body, that holding my hand is one of the most beautiful touches known. And I ask that you make me that kind of woman. Continue to work in me to make me a woman who loves you with all that I am. Please give me patience as I wait for my future partner. Help me to be joyful and faithful to you in this season. I love you and am so grateful for your love for me. I am wonderfully made in your image and I am excited about the loving partnership relationship that I know you have for me. You say we should always pray and not lose heart. You have given me free will in choosing a partner but you call me accountable to create a life and mold my heart in a way that I would be a good partner and have a loving relationship. I am so blessed by that seed that you have planted in my knowing that just as you committed to us that the only way to have a healthy God given relationship is also commitment to another person. I am blessed and my cup runneth over as I look forward to sharing my life with someone equally yoked in those blessings.

I started doing this more last year…as the air began to cool and the snow flakes danced. This year I’m naming them…the “Untouchable Days”. These are days that are saved for eating tomato soup in the bath tub, for having a cold beer as the snow plays with my hair in the spa, for chasing furry paws and toes feeling the connected energy of the ground beneath them. Days where nothing is and everything is. Untouchable days are exactly that – connecting, playing, laughing, nurturing, resting, exploring, passionate and spiritual…wistful and reflective.

I’m excited to start another season of these days, these untouchable, beautiful, whimsical days. To dust off the box filled with gifts of moments and see them unfold. I think the world needs more untouchable days. I know I’m excited as they begin to awaken.

I don’t know about you, but I am joyful that the slowing of winter is here. Spring, Summer and Fall have brought constant movement. I love the warmth, the sun kissed day, sipping a beverage on the patio and being held in the arms of the water. Yet the changing of the weather gently covering all like a secure blanket created a longing to hibernate, go inward, slow down, spend more time at home and enjoy cups of tea, soups, warming and nourishing meals, a glass of wine by the fireplace and just slowing, healing and breathing a bit.
God through mother nature gives us an opportunity to give our bodies a break at this time of year. Winter is nature’s resting season after all. Just as nature is in her quiet and hibernational time, we too need to seek replenishment, rest, reflection and nourishment.

I love rainy/snowy days that whisper to me, stay in bed a bit longer, take naps, snuggle under that soft cozy blanket, take lavish walks in the rain and let the water droplets dance as they laugh sliding off your hair to places unknown. Placing tips and toes into long warm bubble baths, snuggle warming… the moments are broken down and you let yourself go to the pleasure of life. The little things not so little, enjoyment in the colors of a beautiful glass of wine watching the leaves that have taken on new attire drift slowing to make love to the snow covered ground.

We are told nothing is achieved without effort. In areas that is true, yet there is also a need to nurture, to take time diving into the wonders of this amazing, crazy, messy and oh so marvelous life. I find in this changing whirlwind of coolness and winter bliss why it is important to calmly sip the flavor of life, to savor the aromas and fragrances of the air, the way our bodies adapt to their new surroundings, to bathe in the splendor. To do this we must take all the necessary time. There is no hurry for a period of time. Getting to know what quenches my thirst for more, and what excites my passions.

As I sip my cup of steam, prepare for a long massage and watch the water droplets waving hello…the beckoning of joyful peace is there…awaiting me to open it. And with calm bliss I am excited to.

 

Life happens – you want a good relationship but don’t want to invest and put in the effort…guess what – you won’t have one. Your parents got divorced – so did many others – time to deal with it and heal from it. Your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted – no ones technically does. It is amazing how many people blame their choices on other people. Buck up buttercup and be accountable. Be a victim and blame your life on your past, what other people did and what happened to you OR be a warrior and show up to your own life, be accountable and authentic and live your choices.

I translated this from a Puglia newspaper I read. Beautiful…

A magic word in Puglia, even more on the Gargano.
It evokes days of celebration like when you ate pasta with sauce on Sunday.
Striking, as in a universal language, was excellence at the table.
A modest table on weekdays, when a bowl of pasta gathered around the whole family, but was transformed into occasions to remember.

Dragged by the love of poetry, the authentic, frank, dialectal one.
Dragged by the taste of the dishes of our grandparents, unforgettable, with tastes now lost.
Dragged by the passion of music, that disappeared, that of the peasants, of the workers, of those who worked and enjoyed singing, the music of truth, who knew how to tell the world better than any journalist.
We have tried to transmit and preserve all these values ​​and treasures, with simplicity and passion, the same that unites poets and musicians, cooks and waiters, tourists eager to learn and to discover cultures and identities different from theirs.
We tried to dive into the past, through the flavors, words and music that we hope, at least for an evening, to have become a universal language.
As in an antique shop, our restaurateurs Nicola Valente, with Bettina and Nino (Camping Valle d’oro) and Matteo del Viscio and Angela Ferraraccio (Ristorante Amàdo – Villaggio Internazionale Di Monte), have done their best in bringing us food and flavors of the past.
Poetry made us dream, with the most trained and tested couple of Gargano, the excellent Nicola Angelicchio and the award-winning Michela Di Perna, while the music and words of Dario Fiscarelli, made archaic sounds and songs never forgotten vibrate.
The culinary grains of the food technologist Sabrina Pupillo and the mastery of the management of Lucrezia Giglio, delighted the numerous public, both evenings in that of San Menaio. The video and photos of Nicola Pio de Felice, with the help of the Michele Biscotti archive, which we thank for his availability, have “told” the past of our ancestors, through images and music by the late Vincenzo Di Lalla, who he has “lent” his Viking tarantella thanks to the well-known sensitivity of Marilena Verri, who always puts at our disposal the immense artistic material of his late Vincenzo.
Lastly, I want to summon myself and personally thank, for the precious and professional collaboration, all the actors and protagonists of this dinner show, which have made it possible for them to appear well in the eyes of the always welcome guests. Together we can really do something good for our community, starting from the indefatigable Michele Gervasio (Pro Loco Vico del Gargano) to the event partners: CNA Vico – Cantine Nardella – Tenuta Santamaria, who with their precious contribution, have concretized the necessary help.
All this was the fascination of Strascìnati. Attention to the accent!
So that we can return to enjoy the memory inhabited with the taste, the sounds, the songs and the dialect of past times.
Michele Lauriola

I love my relationship devotional. Have you ever been treated like this by someone who said they loved you?

When Casual Is NOT Enough

“They’d been dating for about 4 months. Everything seemed to be going great. They got a long really well, had similar interests and goals, shared beliefs and values, and simply had a lot of fun together. But all of a sudden one day, he seemed to back off. Just like that. No warning. No communication. No answers. A few weeks later they reconnected, and this is what he told her:
“I’m just not ready to commit to this level of dating. Can we just keep it casual?” “Can’t we just date every now and then without getting too serious?

And with that, “casual dating” – the lamest excuse ever- strikes again.
I cringe whenever I hear this phrase. Though many people use the term in an attempt to maintain space, push off commitment, stall for an answer, or implement some distance- in my humble opinion, what it really means is this: “I want you – minus the commitment part.”
Doesn’t sound so appealing when you put it that way, does it?
Part of the problem is that in this day and age, we have a tendency to really complicate dating.
We either try and avoid commitment by condensing a relationship into nothing by calling it “casual”, or we amplify it to a pseudo-marriage of sorts. But dating is neither of those things.
Dating is simply INTENTIONALLY getting to know someone that you’re romantically interested in. It’s taking it one step deeper.
Whether you’re a male or a female, it’s time to do quit with the “casual”thing, and take responsibility for your life and relationships by calling things for what they are.

I love the simple verse in Scripture that encourages us to let our “yes be yes”, and our “no be no” because no matter the issue, it reminds us that honesty, intention, and clarity are so important when it comes to our communication with others- including others of the opposite sex.
Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. If we seriously applied this rule to how we interacted with the opposite sex, the “maybe” of casual dating would vanish instantly within the certainty of yes, let’s do this- or no, let’s not…
Here are a few points to think through if you are stuck at the dead end of casual dating:

  1. Are you past the point of casual? There is a time and place for casual. That time is called the stage of the firsts. First time meeting. First conversations. First dates. In the early stages of dating it should always be casual. No thinking ahead, no commitments, and definitely no promises. It’s a time of knowing and becoming known. It’s a time of testing interactions, communication, and attraction between two people. The first few months of dating can be considered casual, because the direction up ahead is still unclear. But what makes a relationship turn from casual into committed? The answer is always time.
    Within a few months, the very nature of a relationship turns from casual into committed
    . The time that you spend together, the conversations you exchange, and the affection you begin to develop can no longer be considered casual. Once you have entered this stage of a relationship, there should be no going back to the twilight zone of ambiguity and uncertainty. The future is either a YES, or a NO. Time should always eliminate maybes, and if it hasn’t- then the maybe is currently a NO. It is time to grow up and be authentic and accountable.
  2. Consider what it is about casual that makes you comfortable: If you are the one that is longing for casual, you need to ask yourself why. Either the problem lives within you, or within your ability to commit. For some, commitment brings fears of future, failure, commitment, and permanency. For others, they’re filled with doubts, fears, and worries about the future.
    Rather than helping you make a decision, casual dating keeps you stuck in confusion longer than you were ever intended to stay. It paralyzes you from making a choice, and keeps you stagnant in mediocre rather than moving forward toward fulfillment of a loving relationship. If you are comfortable in a casual relationship, you need to really consider what it is that is keeping you from moving forward, and be quick to deal with whatever that thing is.
  3. Realize the cost of casual: For those who are living within the comfort of a casual relationship, there is always a cost. Relationships are meant to be exciting, fulfilling, and healthy. They are made to grow, to stretch, and to mature. They are meant to deepen in intimacy, connection, and in love. If you are at a stand-still within the world of casual, you have to really ask yourself what you are missing out on. There is always a cost. Casual will always take the place of passionate. Casualty will always win over certainty.
    Maybe by waiting for things to magically change, you are missing out on the change that could be taking place inside of you. Maybe by clinging to complacency in a relationship, you are saying yes to casual and no to finding true love.
    The one thing to remember about relationships is that they are not as complicated as we make them. Healthy relationships are natural. Healthy relationships are comfortable. Healthy relationships progress every so easily, deepen ever so quickly, and develop ever so passionately. There is no room for the “maybe” of casual when it comes to finding true love, because true love is certain. So no matter what side of the relationship you’re on, it’s time to give and receive. It’s time to let go of casual, and step into something intentional. You won’t regret it.

This week brings me to my 5th week of studying Romans and also to my new bible study on Surrender. I took at class at New Life Church on what level you are at based on your walk with God. I was at the walking daily but not completely surrendering everything. It isn’t easy – being 100% all in trusting seems like it should be a given but then again we people like to have ownership of everything – be it relationships, emotions, etc. God has shown me that the only way to have a partnership relationship is by being all in – no hiding. That is exactly the kind of relationship he wants with you and I. I’m doing this study with my cousin who is serving some time in the state prison. It is amazing the way God has shaped and touched his life through his experiences. I am so grateful that God never gives up on us and continues to teach me that my grains of sand are numbered. Love requires surrendering. I like this question of focus as I begin this week’s study on What is surrender….

Great article…

There are Christians who hate Trump. Let’s call it for what it is: hate. It is their hate—which is very strange for those who name the name of Jesus—that dulls their ability to see the inaccuracy of their comments and their myopic views.
One sanctimonious ranting Christian said, “There’s nothing Biblical about Trump.” Actually, there’s nothing Biblical about that statement. The prophet Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel recognized the role that this pagan king played in God’s unfolding drama. The church’s ability to work with Trump is totally Biblical.
Now, I must clarify something, lest I incur the wrath of Trump supporters. I am not calling Trump a pagan king—I’m sure he is much more moral than his enemies realize—I am saying that if Daniel could work with the Nebuchadnezzar how much more can we work with the Donald.
I have tried very hard to figure out what causes believers to hate Trump. Our side won a long overdue and miraculous victory at the polls, and yet these believers choose to aid and abet the other side. Is it because their favorite “Christian” didn’t win? Is it a case of sour grapes?They didn’t require any President to be a squeaky clean pastor, until Trump.

Yes, his tweets can be a bit much. And okay, President Trump is not as smooth as Reagan…but, we don’t need smooth right now.
Here is something else that is really strange, (hypocritical is more like it): why didn’t these guardians of morality speak out against Obama? Franklin Graham was attacked for questioning Obama’s Christian Faith. They told him not to judge a brother. Hold that thought as we explore another question…
How could you not question Obama’s Christianity? Obama begged the question by dropping the Christian-card whenever it suited him (something Trump never does). Meanwhile, Barack fought for same sex marriage, late term abortion, gave billions to Iran, and was the most Biblically hostile President in our history.

Trump is not a pastor. He is a businessman who loves America. As far as his faith? I am not qualified to determine his spiritual depth, since I’ve never had the chance to meet the man. But there are many photos of Christian leaders laying hands on the President, praying for him, and he is cooperating.
“He is like Hitler and the church is being fooled,” said another comment. At this time, those of you who are wearing tinfoil hats, please remove them, and listen. Hitler never had 98% of the media against him. Trump has never called for a new constitution. Hitler never tried to protect Israel. I could go on and on.
Maybe if Trump had addressed the March for Life. Maybe if he had chosen an on fire born-again Vice President. Maybe if he had rescinded executive orders that banned federal funds from Christian organizations. Maybe if he overruled the Johnson Amendment that banned the free speech of pastors. Maybe if he had moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, and shown himself to be a true supporter of Israel. Maybe if he had put someone on the Supreme Court who helped Christian bakers to exercise their right to freedom of religion. Maybe then you would support him. Oh wait…he did all those things…
God has done a miracle and the enemy wants to make short work of the amazing breakthroughs we are witnessing by dividing the church. Instead of being a religious outlier you should be thanking God, praying for and supporting the President. And voting for righteousness, and against the enemies of freedom.
1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in high office, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dedication (to God). 3 This (is) good and acceptable before God our Savior, 4 Who wishes all men to be saved and to come to a full knowledge of (the) Truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-4

People will Always Talk About People: There is absolutely nothing you can do to stop people from talking about you. No person is too nice, too quiet or notorious to escape every conversation. Actually, every person is the subject of several conversations and discussions daily. We talk about people that help us; people that hurt us; people that make us laugh and people that make us cry. Some people will speak good things about you and others will spread twisted truths or laudable lies about you. Child of God, don’t waste your precious time seeking to confront every gossiper and responding to every negative talk. Accept the fact that people will always talk about you. Don’t fall victim to the Devil’s dirty tricks. He wants to deviate your attention, stall your progress and distort your focus by inciting you to confront everyone or react to every talk. Regardless of what people say or don’t say; keep your eyes on the mark and keep your ears above trivial talk. In the end, it only matters what Jesus says and knows about you. Therefore turn your eyes and ears away from people and keep your focus on Christ, and get on with your life. – Isaac Kubvoruno

What a beautiful rainy day to have a cup of steam and watch the rain drops dance on the window while sipping on a nice warm cup of steam. Furry paws play across the wooden floor and too wish to snuggle into a soft warm blanket.

Today I count my blessings. I remember a time not so long ago that I was so tired lacking the energy to do what seems today a normal day. I am grateful I have that energy back. A long time ago my lungs were attacked by a specific mold causing me to not be able to breathe. While today I’m fine, I remember that feeling, those moments, placing one foot in front of the other and being lung exhausted. I don’t dwell on those moments but I never forget them. I know what it is to be loved and to give love. I know what it is to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and watch it play across the blades of grass. I know what it is like to feel complete joy as well as what it is like to feel complete pain. I don’t think it is good to be stuck in either for as the rose needs the sun to grow, it also needs the rain. I am grateful for all my moments. I know people have regrets, but for me when I take in moments colored I know God has a purpose and a plan for each of them. I thought of all the people I know who are suffering health issues at the moment and how that one thing we should never get too accustomed to of having it. A gentleman in his 80’s waved at me through a car window yesterday. He had a veterans cap on. He seems to be happy that he was going somewhere or perhaps he was just happy with life. It warmed my heart as I thought of moments past. How simple life really is.

I am blessed beyond measure in my life. Not because of anything specific (although I have many specific things to be grateful for) but because of who’s I am. I know that we have seasons that seem to go smoothly and other seasons that the bottom drops out. I know that in this life you really cannot just have one or the other. This crazy, messy, beautiful and wild life takes strength, endurance, love, grace, forgiveness and to keep putting one foot in front of the other….day by day. I’m grateful my heavenly father has given me a reset day each day, but I would be foolish to think that I am promised tomorrow. At the end of the day love is the most beautiful gift given – you can buy it or box it up or put it in a jar with a lid to open when needed. It is a gift freely given by choice …and I am so grateful it is.

It will not always be like this,

The air windless, a few last

Leaves adding their decoration

To the trees’ shoulders, braiding the cuffs

Of the boughs with gold; a bird preening

In the lawn’s mirror. Having looked up

From the day’s chores, pause a minute,

Let the mind take its photograph

Of the bright scene, something to wear

Against the heart in the long cold.

How little note is taken of the deeds of Nature! What paper publishes her reports? …. Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds, or the written music of water written in river-lines? Who reports and works and ways of the clouds, those wondrous creations coming into being every day like freshly upheaved mountains? And what record is kept of Nature’s colors – – the clothes she wears – of her birds, her beasts – her live-stock?
John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

My nature touches….the eyes through photos are the windows to our souls.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

Love desires to express itself. Love is demonstrative and must be expressed. When God’s love is in us, it flows out in sacrificial giving.

Love doesn’t hide. I wish I would have truly been grounded in this statement but I’d never know what it was like to have my love hidden, to know what it is like to have someone say I love you but don’t let anyone know I do. To one moment feel loved and the next moment abandoned only to be told – this is normal, you shouldn’t feel crazy or be upset, live in the moment.

When I love someone I wish to shout it from the roof tops and to express love. I was thinking if God created me for relationship, love and life – he wouldn’t want me to hide – to hide my love, my relationship, my joy, my sorrow. He for certain doesn’t want me to hide my love for Him, so why would he want me to hide it otherwise. Bottom line is he doesn’t. In fact what kind of an example would I be setting for anyone by saying – It is ok to love someone but leave them out of family gatherings, it is ok to love someone but not include them, it is ok for others to say if they can be with you or not, it is ok to go to church with them but never invite them for Easter – is that the kind of person I want others to see in me? Is that how I want others to see that is how I think a partner should be treated? Would I want to be treated that way?

I can’t imagine having the fear of rejection be so great that hiding love out weighs living in love – giving and receiving it. “I feared rejection so much that I was terrified of living out love.” Know what? No one is perfect. It doesn’t matter your childhood, your parents, you financial journey, your whatever – everyone makes mistakes and everyone has baggage. Going around living in a glass bubble about not hurting others makes you a sudo God – not a position any of us are equipt to handle. We can live our lives, try to be a good partner, or a good parent, or good sister or brother – those things are not separate bubbles – life was not created that way. So if you think others are so much better than you are and they have this life figured out – I can promise you they are not. I can tell you God paid for my past and my worth is not in your value of me or anyone elses -I AM A CHILD OF GOD AND MY VALUE IS GOD’S VALUE.

I wish I could tell every woman that if someone says they love you but they won’t hold your hand when “certain” people are around that isn’t love that’s hiding. Love is never letting go of your hand because even if scary, even if hard, even in times of extreme hurt – there is no place or person they would rather be with. LOVE IS ACTION, LOVE IS SHOWING UP, LOVE IS A CHOICE. Love is saying I love this person and while you may not be thrilled about it I would expect and ask you to treat them with the same respect you would want me to give your partner. Pretty basic human God-like kindness.

There is a difference between changing to grow in a relationship and being frozen in fear because the boat might get rocked a little. I’ve seen relationship where one changed themselves for others or people put others on a pedestal and believe their self-worth is in other’s perceptions of them. It is a sinking boat that will never be filled as you try to keep the boat from sinking using a teaspoon. I too have given myself no worth at times. Privacy has nothing to do with keeping someone hidden. Sharing your love for someone whether it be in a caption or a photo doesn’t disrupt privacy – no ones life is ruined forever – not if it is with someone that loves you. Ask yourself – How is that you’ve accepted being left out or made to look like a ghost to their present lives. A man who hides you is hiding something that’ll eventually break your heart. Think about it…

Would you say your a Christian and hide it? No of course not. Then why would you say you love someone, want to be with them and then hide them?

Know this – YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE! Love that doesn’t want to hide who you are. Love that wants to further you. Love that wants to celebrate in all moments with you. You’re so worth loving.

Love doesn’t hide. It stays and fights. It goes the distance. That’s why God made love so strong. So it can carry you all the way home.

We should always show our love as the world needs more of it and the other person should also value that love. Love is one of the most precious gifts we can choose to give another person. There is only one you and one me. The person we choose to give our hearts to should value it, should take care of it. No one is perfect….I know I wouldn’t want perfect. But there is a difference in hiding someone you supposedly love vs showing up and being there. A relationship is build on being there and continuing to be there. Giving up is easy, fighting for your relationship takes investment and guts. Love calls us to have faith even when we don’t know, to have commitment even when it is hard, love is the strange of three that keeps us together moving forward….Love believes, loves hope, love never lets go of a hand.

SERMON – LOVE DOESN’T HIDE

Home

I think of you often. And sometimes I base my decisions and actions off of someone, you, whose opinion I can no longer ask, questioning my choices because of words I only hear in my head, no longer spoken aloud by you.
I wonder how amazing Heaven is. If you’re drinking coffee in heaven, visiting with every stranger you meet up there, filling the skies with the light from your smile.
I wonder if you watch me, shake your head when I do something senseless, laugh when I can’t find anything to wear. I wonder if you tell the other angels about me, if you share stories of the girl I used to be, the woman I’m hopefully always becoming.
I wonder if you are proud of me, would be proud of me, if you were still alive. Then I smile, you always loved me – unconditionally – no matter what.
It’s been a long road without you here. But sometimes when I watch the waves crash over the rocks on the shore, or follow the butterflies as they duck behind the clouds as I sit on the banks of the creek or the river, I wonder what you’d say to me, if you could.
I wonder if you’d tell me to keep writing, to never let my words die, even if my hopes sometimes do. I wonder if you’d tell me to be on my own and stop worrying so much about love, that God’s got me. I wonder if you’d touch my arm and tell me to talk to God more than I do.
I wonder if you listen when I pray, if you’re the one watching my footsteps, pushing me through when I feel tired and reminding me when I need rest.
I wonder, when it rains and I wake in the middle of the night to the drops hitting my windowpane, if it’s you reminding me I am here, and I am loved.
I think about you when it’s cloudy. When the sky is gearing up for a beautiful sunset, but the color has hidden beneath the clouds, waiting patiently. I think about how you were always so calm, so faithfilled, even in your final moments. I think about how at times you used to drive me crazy, but how it’s so true—we always miss the little things the most when they’re gone.
Sometimes I wonder what you think. Of the places I’ve been and pictures I’ve taken that you loved seeing. That the things earthly have all been paid off and life awaits the next to be. Of my blankets sprawled across my bed and notebooks, pictures and your bible on the shelf. Of the relationships I’ve built, of the man I love, of the words I write that sometimes seem so close to me it’s like my heart is spilling blood across the page.

I wonder what we would do together if you were still alive. I wonder if you’d forgive me for the ways I didn’t love you as much as I should have when you were here. And then I smile because I know you already have.

I hope you’d see how life is now. It is a different life from the one I used to have of the quiet streets and porch visit coffee nights. Life here is different.
Days like today, I listen to the cars rushing by on the busy streets. I open my blinds and watch the clouds float lazily across the sky. I remind myself that this is the only life I’ve been given, and I haven’t been promised an infinite number of days. I so know that, God daily reminds me of that.
I remind myself that your meter expired, your grains of sand ran, but your love will never fade. And I’ll try to keep living like you did—fully, with all of your heart, even until your last breath. And that I will have coffee with you again some glorious day in Heaven.
I hope to honor your memory in the way I live and love.
And I hope to make you proud, even if you’re no longer here to see it.

Flying on the wind. I was imagining the feeling as the leaf took flight from the tree…gently coasting in the air, then picking up speed as it went the distance finally landing on the grassy field. Can you imagine? Excitement, wonder, exhilaration…perhaps blended with a touch of unknown and wonder. A tiny boat for a cricket to sail across the pond, a masterpiece in a child’s art project, a special gift between lovers who know the meaning in a leaf, the silent gazer over passers by….or perhaps it becomes crushed under the weight of shuffled feet that do not even give it a glance.

That leaf is like many of us – just what leaf you are is the question. Are you the one that is trampled under the feet of others – perhaps feel unnoticed, do you soar in the sky landing to touch those in need, are you a boat connecting? Close your eyes and picture the leaf gliding from the tree. Does it take you to a place of joy and wonder or lead you down a path of anxiety and fear. I wonder when the defining moment is that creates in us the ability and/or protection mode to stop trusting. Is it the moment when we are young and we loose something precious to us, is it the moment someone unknowingly breaks a promise, is it when life hands us something unexpected? What is that one moment that causes us to gravitate from all is good, all are loving, I have faith – to I have fear, I will self protect, I no longer trust?

I was thinking of my childhood. Not that it was perfect by any means but I had those I had complete trust in – the kind of trust you have without even thinking of it. I grew up in it…I am the leaf that floats in the sky not really being afraid of landing. I believe in people, I believe in goodness, I have experienced the joy of laughter and love. Yet I know the feeling of shattered glass. I know those moments broken. And I wonder, how do others who have no relationship with a Heavenly Father pick up those glass shards on their own. I think of that leaf…at any time it could be crushed under feet that do not even acknowledge it’s existence or fingertips that grip it so tightly that it is folds into tiny pieces. Yet it has a purpose, a presence. Perhaps it is needed crushed for the bed of a bunny, for mulch of a flower, for a purpose we often would not consider. I have found that when my focus, my expectation and my trust are on my Heavenly Father – I can glide just as a leaf dances from the tree trusting that where ever I am land be it in a river stream or field of grass that I am just where I’m supposed to be at that very moment.

Drift back to the moment you can first remember knowing trust and knowing you lost it. Have you held it and embraced that moment? Have you talked with it and dived deep in it? And after doing so have you healed from it, thanked if for it’s touches on your journey and released it? Then after doing so…where is it you currently focus your trust – is it on others who are imperfect or is it on your Heavenly Father who is. It makes all the difference in your leaf glide.

As we remember today…
“There are some who would vow that life isn’t fair. They believe the worst is yet to come, that evil will always conquer good, and that we have no control over our fate. It’s true, there are storms that shake our foundations and monsters that threaten to tear us limb from limb. We will make terrible mistakes. We will fall short of our expectations. No one is exempt from pain and fear. But life, and what comes after, is a beautiful mixture of darkness and light, sacrifice and salvation. There is no fine line between the two, for both are needed. Where there is grief, there will be joy. Where there is heartbreak, love will follow.”
– Rebecca Harris

Once upon a time, in an deep dark forest, there was a boy as deep as the river and a girl as red as the rose
They shared a love so fluid, it could overcome distance, danger, darkness…and….
But not all fairy tale romances tart out with Love at First Sight.
Not all heros start out as noble knights.
And not all princesses start out as damsels in distress.
For these tow lovers faced a great many impossible odds; many forces – both physical and supernatural – that tried to tear them apart at every turn.
Yet through all the pain and dissonance and grief, this boy and girl preserved.
Not simply because they were destined to be blended together..
But because their hearts believed they would find each other.
That through it all there was a cord woven of three.
This is how their story began…

Brees said that he lived by the credo to “love all, respect all, and accept all.” He has spoken about his Christian faith and how it has guided his life.

 

You judge someone not when you assess their position, but when you dismiss them as a person. Jesus told people that their works were evil. Yet John 3:17 says that God didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it. There is a difference between speaking a harsh truth and condemning. Condemning goes beyond saying “This is wrong” to saying, “I don’t want you around anymore.”

It’s what you do afteryou tell someone the truth that determines whether or not you are condemning—a.k.a. judging—them. When Jesus told us the harsh truth about our sin, he brought us close. He made us, even as sinners, his friends.

The antidote to judging is to remember the gospel. Here are some signs you’re judging others (because you’ve forgotten the gospel):

1. You are more enraged at someone else’s sin than you are embarrassed by your own. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that one of the first signs of Christian maturity was a frustration with the hypocrisy of the church and a desire to separate from it. But the next sign of growth was recognizing that the same hypocrisy in the church is present in oneself. We continue to confront others in their sin, but always while being painfully aware of our own.

2. You refuse to forgive (or when you forgive you refuse to forget) To refuse to forgive someone is to be almost entirely ignorant of the enormity of what God has forgiven you. And to “forgive but not forget” is, as I’ve heard it said, “a distinction without a difference.” It’s just another way of saying, “I’m going to remind you of this all the time and use it as justification for being cold toward you.” In other words, it’s not forgiveness at all. Forgiveness means absorbing the debt and offering love and goodness in return.

3. You “cut off” those who disagree with you. This is the essence of judging. When you disagree strongly with someone—over something like faith or morality or politics—and because you can’t agree you cut them off. You say, in essence, “We can’t really be friends if we disagree on this issue.” The ultimate statement of judgment is, “Depart from me.”

Hear me charitably on this: you have to love the person more than you love your position on a particular issue. That doesn’t mean you ever compromise your position or fail to state it. But it means that you stay committed to loving those who passionately disagree with you.

The best example of this is Jesus with Judas. Even after Judas had betrayed him, Jesus says to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Friend. Jesus offers the hand of friendship to him—and to us!—when we are his betrayers. How can I say “Depart from me” to someone else, when God doesn’t even say that to me?

4. You gossip. What makes gossip so dangerous is that you are judging someone without giving them the chance to change. At least if you judged someone to their face, they could do something about it. (And don’t mask it with a “prayer request” or a classically Southern “bless his heart.”)  How often are you praying for the person you don’t want to be around because of their sin?

5. You refuse to receive criticism. Why do you hate criticism? Isn’t it because you hate to admit that you have faults? But if you understand the gospel, that shouldn’t surprise you. So when others point out your depravity, you should be able to say, “Well, of course. In fact, I could tell you a thing or two you didn’t notice!”

6. You refuse to correct someone’s position. Irony alert. As a Christian, when you refuse to correct someone, it’s for one of two reasons: 1. You don’t believe that the Bible is true, or 2. You don’t think the other person can actually change. But by assuming the other person won’t change and won’t listen, you’re judging and condemning them from the start. You’re consigning them to their sin without ever giving them the chance to receive grace. Which leads me to the last one…

7. You write someone off as hopeless. Listen, we serve a Savior who raises the dead. It shouldn’t phase use if we think someone is hopeless. We are just as hopeless. We often keep our mouths shut because we think someone is beyond hope. We can speak life into all of those around us.

There is a balance here between grace and truth. So don’t judge others by withholding the truth. But don’t judge them by speaking the truth without grace and love. Instead, give them the grace and truth of the gospel. Truth without grace is judgmental fundamentalism; grace without truth is liberal sentimentality. The gospel combines both.

I just enjoy the mornings when my heart awakens, even though my body maybe sleepy (and we all know I’m not a morning person) but I awaken knowing how blessed I am. I am so grateful for each breath. When the steam permeates the house, the warmth of it touches my lips and settles in my tummy – the wet dew between my toes and the joy the furry babies get from running outside.

I often watch as Jetta runs and plays. She is aware of her surroundings, however feels safe enough that she plays, not fearing danger or harm. The leaves are toys, the birds are things to be chased, the sound of the squirrel is back ground chatter to her morning. She runs and falls and gets back up with no big deal and runs again. Just being outside playing is her joy. She keeps an eye on being able to see me at all times but does not worry. She is content, safe, loved and joyful.

I think how much more grateful I am when I awaken and share my day that way too. Keeping God always in sight, but not worried, not stressing, not afraid or thinking I’m in constant danger, but trusting, laughing, loving, chasing the leaves and enjoying the sun. My Heavenly Father wants that for me, for you, for all of us. Knowing he is watching over me like I watch over Jetta.

I was reminded again this morning that I don’t have to take on the weight of the world – I’m not responsible for you, for her, for him – I am only responsible for me. How I act and re-act. I don’t need to be your judge, your mother, your pastor, your warden, your anything. What I can be is a partner, daughter, sister, friend and I will always be a loved child of the King. That right there is pretty amazing!

I was thinking of my Grandmother today and how she instilled in us that everyone is always welcome – no matter what. You are sick, you are poor, you don’t know God, you may not be on the right path, money currently is your God, you are broken or wounded….maybe you have gifts to share with us of time, love, talent or just being there. Whatever it is you bring or don’t bring – at my Grandmother’s house you were always welcomed, you were always loved, you were always present. No wonder every one wanted to be there, to stop by, to spend time – even those we rented rooms to said what an amazing spirit she had. I try every day to carry that spirit within me and be a beacon of that light and love.

There was always coffee on no matter what time of day or night it was. You would also find TBN Christian broadcasting on at least one television (usually the living room one) that was very rarely, if ever, turned off. She spoke about God and salvation, of scripture and of grace and forgiveness but she always did it with love. She never made anyone feel like an outsider, pointed fingers, was harsh, and she never ever turned anyone away. Can you imagine someone saying to you – I’m sorry you don’t fit my level of perfection or your sin has made you less than in my book, or I just don’t have time for you because in my view you aren’t worth the time because of your past or maybe your present. I’m sure grateful God doesn’t say those things to you or me. We each are sinners every single day of this life until God takes us home. Sure maybe you didn’t murder anyone today but did you have an unkind thought? Harboring any unforgiveness? Were you sarcastic to someone, rude, or impatient today? We all sin.

Aren’t you glad when you went through whatever dark time you went through God didn’t say – I don’t want to be around you, I don’t have time for you, you aren’t welcome here? I know I sure am. There are so many hurting people, broken people in this world – and I’m sorry to say that I see some Christian adding salt to the wounds. You aren’t welcome in this church or my home, oh you didn’t know God loves you less than he does me because you don’t have it together when you walk through those doors? It breaks my heart…guess what – none of us really do. What’s that? You’ve never been in dark times. I am glad for you, but never say never. I pray that you don’t have to and that you never will. But don’t you want to know that no matter what you have done, are doing or things you don’t even know you may do yet – there is a God that loves you right where you are.

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come! I come

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt
Fighting and fears within without
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

I know I’m grateful for that. I”m also grateful for a Grandmother who taught me that everyone is worthy, everyone has value and a purpose, everyone is a loved child of God. If my heavenly father loves someone – how much shall I also love them.

” If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” 1 John 4:20 (MSG)

Do you remember when you were a little kid and you believed? In what you maybe thinking? You just had faith – in whatever you had faith in? Life was an adventure – at least for me. I believed when someone said I love you they really did, or when it was dinner time, that we would be eating, or that I am a cherished child of God….I didn’t question it.

I still have that eternal well spring of hope – hope and belief when someone tells you they love you – that they really do. That when someone says I’m committed to you that they are. When someone holds your hand or kisses you that it means something – not something sexual or superficial that it core means I want to be with you and only you.

My belief and hope keep getting challenged by the love that is supposed to love me, protect me, keep me warm, support me, be with me. Yet God built me to have faith, to have hope to still believe. I was created for a beautiful, loving, relationship. This world is so imperfect and messy – and that is what makes finding a hand to hold and even more beautiful and precious.

As the song I heard this morning “Love is what matters.” FAITH

God’s word reminds us that perfect love casts out fear. Growth, intimacy and commitment in a relationship all require faith in unfolding to bring them into full bloom. That is God’s way not the worlds way.  Commitment sets the foundation for growth, security, and love to bloom

This article is absolutely amazing…and in my opinion spot on in how God wants us to have a loving, partnership relationship.

Discover why finding balance between connectedness and differentiation is one of the most important elements of a successful relationship.

Baby, now that I’ve found you

I won’t let you go

I built my world around you

I need you so

Baby even though

You don’t need me

You don’t need me no, no

–Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” by Alison Krauss

Do you remember the story about Brer Rabbit and the tar baby? One day, Brer Fox devises a plan to catch Brer Rabbit. He creates a figure out of sticky tar and dresses it to look like a boy. When Brer Rabbit happens by, he kindly greets the boy. Angry that the boy doesn’t respond, Brer Rabbit bops him in the face. His paw gets caught, so he punches the boy again, further trapping himself in the tar. When his thrashing has him thoroughly stuck, Brer Fox jumps out, ready to devour him. Of course, as these stories go, Brer Rabbit tricks Brer Fox into letting him free.

It’s a great children’s story, but the idea of being “stuck” accurately describes many of our most intimate relationships. Everywhere, people have become emotionally glued to those around them, but unlike Brer Rabbit, no amount of ingenuity seems to free them.

You’ve seen this in bickering couples and parents held hostage by screaming children in the produce aisle. These folks are absolutely trapped in repetitious, emotionally regressive cycles. Stuck people are your friends, too: the gal who throws herself at the first guy to look her way and the serial-dater who is impervious to the good advice of his mates.

While we’re at it, let’s toss in mama’s boys and bad grrlz, hopeless romantics and happily-ever-after dreamers, many of whom are emotionally fattened by the Hollywood spin machine and a complicit Christian culture that often propagates a soul-mate theology.

Christian writer Henri Nouwen explains that many relationship difficulties stem from loneliness and a twisted love that becomes possessive:

When we feel lonely we keep looking for a person or persons who can take our loneliness away. Our lonely hearts cry out, “Please hold me, touch me, speak to me, pay attention to me.” But soon we discover that the person we expect to take our loneliness away cannot give us what we ask for. Often that person feels oppressed by our demands and runs away, leaving us in despair. As long as we approach another person from our loneliness, no mature human relationship can develop. Clinging to one another in loneliness is suffocating and eventually becomes destructive.

Of course, none of us set out to become the gum on someone’s shoe, but life has a way of leading down those paths anyway. Eldest child, youngest child, only child, unwanted child, picked-on child, “perfect” child, child of divorce, neglected or abused child — all of us are wounded in some way which limits our ability to give and receive love the way God intended. We all struggle to find our true identity, what counselors call our core sense of self.

When our core sense of self is damaged or underdeveloped we are more susceptible to emotional fusion with others and has us handing responsibility for our happiness over to everyone around us. This “enmeshment” further stems from our inability to moderate the forces of individuality and togetherness that mark every relationship we have. Too much individuality leads a person to disconnect from those around him; too much togetherness and a person begins to feel life is determined by those around her, helplessly dependent on others’ emotional vibes.

This has huge implications for marriage-minded folks. Finding balance between connectedness and differentiation is, according to many marriage and family therapists, one of the most important elements of a successful relationship. Failure to understand the trap of enmeshment is going to make marriage difficult for the gals who have subscribed to bridal magazines since age 12 and the guys who see marriage as the Olympic-size pool to quench the desires they’ve struggled to manage since puberty. Put simply, no one else can shoulder the load for your fulfillment.

True Intimacy

Jerry Maguire may believe that “you complete me,” but St. Augustine of Carthage long ago realized that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Without knowing about modern psychology, Augustine taps into the ancient truth of our being. Our identity — our sense of who we are — fuels everything in our lives. And that identity can only come from God, no matter how noble, pure and right our relationship desires are.

The solution to emotionally-fused relationships may surprise you. It doesn’t involve expensive retreats, date nights or tips to increase romance — all of which are designed to bridge the intimacy gap by increasing the force of togetherness. Rather, the key to lasting relationship success comes by creating distance between couples in order to strengthen each person’s core sense of self.

Again, Nouwen is so perceptive. He writes, “When we invade another’s space and do not allow the other to be his or her own free person, we cause great suffering in our relationships. But when we give another space to move…true intimacy becomes possible.”

Psychologist Edwin Friedman, an expert in family systems theory, said that his goal in marriage counseling was to get people to separate so they didn’t need to “separate.” This process of “differentiation” helps people to stop trying to change the negative aspects of others. Rather, they are taught to focus more on the aspects of life they can control, which are usually limited to their own behavior and reactions to life challenges.

Focusing on one’s self may appear to be “selfish,” but it is absolutely critical to healthy relationships and is the foundation for real intimacy. Consider marriage. When you commit to love, honor and cherish another for life, who is making that commitment? To join together well, we must be whole persons. The Bible speaks of marriage as two becoming one flesh. It doesn’t say that two half parts together make a whole couple.

Further, when marriage and parenting call you to give of yourself — and you will sacrifice plenty in these relationships — you need a self to give away. Truly selfish people aren’t too full of themselves; they actually don’t have enough self and have resorted to taking it from others.

Jesus, Our Example

Although marriage and family therapists have only recently understood these relationship dynamics, these twin aspects of our being — separateness and connectedness — are written into us before time.

The creation story in Genesis 1 describes how God created humankind in His image and likeness. “Male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). The politically correct fashion of today views sexual differentiation as irrelevant, but God is having none of it. He intentionally created humankind as a way of expressing the truth about His very being.

We worship a God eternally present as three distinct persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — who interact in the oneness of perfect loving communion. The Trinity is the ideal balance of individuality and union.

We reflect this triune image as male and female individuals, as well as in our wondrous capacity for emotional, sexual and spiritual union with others. Sometimes couples are additionally blessed by the creation of a new life within the one-flesh union (our own earthly trinity), just as God designed.

Jesus, who is fully God and fully man (not half parts of each, as hundreds of years of church councils have hammered out), also provides a model for balancing separateness and connectedness in daily life. He is the quintessential well-differentiated self, immediately present and connected to those around Him but not defined by them. Even as everyone else — including His closest friends — grew anxious, Jesus remained calm. To the very end He understood who He was and stayed true to His identity, even praying for those who tortured Him. Jesus willingly gave His full self for the life of His bride, the church, yet never lost His self as He gave himself away.

Of course, this kind of balance will never fully be ours, but we can spend each day gaining greater health to guide us through all stages of life — single, married, raising children, widowed or divorced. Thankfully we can chart our course by the compass of John the Beloved’s words that “there is no fear in love” and the map that St. Paul so often gives to newlyweds:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

This we know in part, writes Paul, but someday we will know the full truth that the only thing possessed by love is itself.

Copyright 2012 Christopher Riordan. All rights reserved.

What a beautiful relax day. It started with the sounds of raining singing as I sipped steam on the patio watching Jetta play in her cat tree. Then the sun came out beyond the clouds. The words in my reading today were clarity and conviction. The clouds to clear sky reminded me of clarity. There have been times in my life that I perhaps didn’t have the best clarity but I am grateful that my life has always had conviction. I believe that mistakes are ways of learning and growing. If you aren’t making them then you aren’t growing or even trying anything. Lessons take conviction, risk, guts and action. One may not always make the “perfect” choice but at least if one has the conviction to make a choice …life moves. I can say at least I choose to live and to live my life – not yours or anyone elses.

The one lesson I think there is to learn in indecisiveness is that you will either define yourself or be defined by others. Life is about choice and action. You will either choose your life or live a life that was never meant to be yours. How you end is profoundly affected by how you begin. You never begin the journey of creating the life you want until you know what you want. It’s only when you know what you want that you can say no to
everything that wants you. I’ve seen it over and over again. You will never get what you want until you know what you want.

Think how easy it is to miss out on what is right in front of us. Love, life, joy – so easy to think we have all the grains of sand time in the world, when in fact we don’t. The reality is that far too often God puts right in front
of us what our hearts have longed for, but we just sit there and never take action. It’s safer on the fence, what would others think, what might happen if we lived in action and love? In the most tragic of cases, we wait too long, we keep waiting for the right moment (and there is no “right” moment). What we need is conviction even if we aren’t 100% sure of clarity – at some point we need to act based on faith, we need to go for it. Indecision is not a decision. So often people blame God for the life they have, but they do not know what life they want. And when they think they might they let others make their decisions or influence their outcomes….or perhaps they just sit there and do nothing at all.

“To live a life in which you strike your last arrow, where you never settle for less, you have to know what you want.” And when you know what you want, you have to muster up the courage and faith to pursue it with all your might. When God has your heart, you can trust your desires.

GREAT RELATIONSHIP VIDEO….

Job 11:13-18 New International Version (NIV)

13
“Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
14
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
15
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
16
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
17
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
18
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

I thought about this….about our country…about the smallest flower to the largest mountain. If something is not of value then it is easily discarded.

Here we are looking at life? If life is not valued it is easy to discard in the means of shootings as we have all seen lately in number. Nebraska has had it’s fair share of domestic violence attacks turned deadly that have also resulted in life lost. If a baby is not valued until it is born – it has no value to those who see no value in it. If life is not valued as precious from the time of conception to the last breath on earth – what is it’s value.

Take a relationship? If a relationship is not valued then it is easily tossed away, discarded as well as the person in the relationship. If they are seen as sex only, as a way to fill a need, as a second class person who doesn’t have feelings or hurts – easy to treat them as less than right?

Then we take God and church and the most important eternity. If none of those are of “value” we take them out of our schools, out of our homes, our work place, our colleges and our lives. If God isn’t important then we don’t invite him to have a relationship in the details of life.

So at the end of the day …what it is you value? What is it that you can easily discard? It impacts choices and decisions – it impacts little details of every day walking. If you value love, life, God, eternity, relationship, church…than those are your choices. If you value or emphasize bitterness, hatred, no God, no eternity and life just ends and is of no little value those are your choice.

One of the most amazing gifts is to value yourself. Not how others perceive you but how your Heavenly Father sees you. Now I know – if you don’t believe you have a Heavenly Father you see little to no value in that, but just know he loves you and loves you so much he sent his son to die for you. I know no other value as great. So at the end of the day…what do you value.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

“So Lord teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Having a partner that turns towards you on days that are not so sunshine filled is a blessing. One that has your back, supports you, let’s you know you are a priority in their life, that they love you and are there for YOU – it a pretty amazing gift. Being that kind of partner is even better.

Sunflowers 🌻 turn according to the position of the sun. In other words, they “chase the light.” You might already know this, but there is another fact that you probably do not know!

Have you ever wondered what happens on cloudy and rainy days when the sun is completely covered by clouds?🤔
This is an interesting question.Isn’t it?

Perhaps you think the sunflower withers or turns its head towards the ground. Is this what crossed your mind?

Well, guess what…
This is what happens:
They turn towards each other to share their energy.🌻✨🌻

Nature’s perfection is amazing. Now if we apply this reflection to our couple’s relationship wouldn’t it be amazing! We all have not so great moments, moments that hurt, times we are low-spirited, and at times are most vulnerable.
Wouldn’t it feel amazing to have a sunflower partner? Would it be wonderful if we each follow the example of the beautiful sunflowers 🌻 “Supporting. loving empowering each other” in our couple relationship.

Wishing everyone a “Sun flower”🌻 trait of turning towards each other on their cloudy and gloomy days in their relationship. Be a sunflower to your partner and imagine how nurturing your relationship will cause it to blossom.

This is a well written and food for thought article.

My Generation Is Blind to the Prosperity Around Us
Destroying the free market will undo what millions of people have died to achieve.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Alyssa Ahlgren

I’m sitting in a small coffee shop near Nokomis trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of Democratic candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism. I put my phone down and continue to look around.

I see people talking freely, working on their MacBooks, ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me. We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it. Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose.
We Take Our High Standard of Living for Granted

These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

My generation is being indoctrinated by a mainstream narrative to actually believe we have never seen prosperity.

Our unappreciation is evident as the popularity of socialist policies among my generation continues to grow. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said to Newsweek talking about the millennial generation, “An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.”

Never saw American prosperity. Let that sink in. When I first read that statement, I thought to myself, that was quite literally the most entitled and factually illiterate thing I’ve ever heard in my 26 years on this earth. Now, I’m not attributing Miss Ocasio-Cortez’s words to outright dishonesty. I do think she whole-heartedly believes the words she said to be true. Many young people agree with her, which is entirely misguided. My generation is being indoctrinated by a mainstream narrative to actually believe we have never seen prosperity. I know this first hand, I went to college, let’s just say I didn’t have the popular opinion, but I digress.
Capitalism Leads to Prosperity

Let me lay down some universal truths really quick. The United States of America has lifted more people out of abject poverty, spread more freedom and democracy, and has created more innovation in technology and medicine than any other nation in human history. Not only that but our citizenry continually breaks world records with charitable donations, the rags to riches story is not only possible in America but not uncommon, we have the strongest purchasing power on earth, and we encompass 25 percent of the world’s GDP. The list goes on.

However, these universal truths don’t matter. We are told that income inequality is an existential crisis (even though this is not an indicator of prosperity; some of the poorest countries in the world have low income inequality), we are told that we are oppressed by capitalism (even though it’s brought about more freedom and wealth to the most people than any other system in world history), we are told that the only way we will acquire the benefits of true prosperity is through socialism and centralization of federal power (even though history has proven time and again this only brings tyranny and suffering).

Why then, with all of the overwhelming evidence around us, evidence that I can even see sitting at a coffee shop, do we not view this as prosperity? We have people who are dying to get into our country. People around the world destitute and truly impoverished. Yet, we have a young generation convinced they’ve never seen prosperity, and as a result, elect politicians dead set on taking steps towards abolishing capitalism.

Destroying the free market will undo what millions of people have died to achieve.

Why? The answer is this, my generation has only seen prosperity. We have no contrast. We didn’t live in the Great Depression, or live through two world wars, or see the rise and fall of socialism and communism. We don’t know what it’s like not to live without the internet, without cars, without smartphones. We don’t have a lack of prosperity problem. We have an entitlement problem, an ungratefulness problem, and it’s spreading like a plague.

With the current political climate giving rise to the misguided idea of a socialist utopia, will we see the light? Or will we have to lose it all to realize that what we have now is true prosperity? Destroying the free market will undo what millions of people have died to achieve.

My generation is becoming the largest voting bloc in the country. We have an opportunity to continue to propel us forward with the gifts capitalism and democracy has given us. The other option is that we can fall into the trap of entitlement and relapse into restrictive socialist destitution. The choice doesn’t seem too hard, does it?

It is amazing to me how little things bring a trip down memory lane. I’m sentimental by nature. I would be 98% sure that I can tell you who gave me what in my home. It isn’t always so much the gift, but it is about the person who gave it to me. Gifts are special because they are part of someone to me.

Spending the weekend in the Sandhills always brings back touches. I find myself, especially this year, just enjoying sititing in the back yard, taking long relaxing walks, having a glass of wine and watching the rabbits or deer play, the way the creek moves the water over the rocks and my toes. It really is the little things. To be content on a blanket in the grass, barefooted watching the babies play as they remember what a lightening bug is, the wind caress my hair, the warm sand that seems to hold forever tightly inside of my swimsuit as Jimmy Buffet plays in the back ground. Those are the moments that I hold closely, I enjoy road trips yet the moments spent just breathing with no where to go, nothing to do are treasures.

To be a good friend, family member or partner requires giving of one’s self to another….this summer has been filled with moments that I have gifted to others. I have enjoyed them greatly. It just makes those moments that are my gifts to open even more amazing. I’ve actually spaced time to just be in those moments, to have them, hold them, open them and breathe them in. It’s important to show up to your relationships be it friendship, partnership or even worship. I have time that I just spend walking around taking in God’s amazing gifts while I listen to worship music just spending time with my Heavenly Dad. I need that….it keeps me grounded, just like the sand covered hills of the Sandhills keep me rooted. No matter where I go, I’ll never loose what the Sandhills has given me. You can’t take the sand out of the girl, smiling. As I was saying, it’s important to show up for birthdays, life celebrations, moments that are important to others, to spend time in friendship and fellowship, with family, with your partner most importantly. And at the end of the day – just with yourself. It is important to check my tea kettle to make sure it is replenished. That I am full so I can give to others instead of take from them.

I often get the longing as some days it is so natural to just pick up the phone and call Grandma like we used to do. To talk, tell each other about our days, our joys, our sorrows and just details of life sharing. I miss those moments. If you think you have all the time in the world, maybe you do, but most likely you do not. You don’t have all the time in the world to tell someone you love them or even about the details of your day, or to ask them how was your moments? Because time runs out for all of us. It isn’t scary or awful…it just does. So enjoy whatever makes your heart sing, fill your tea kettle, pour out to others and know where you’ll spend eternity….the rest just ebbs and flows.

Yes…don’t say manana if you don’t mean it…

Please don’t say manana if you don’t mean it
I have heard those words for so very long
Don’t try to describe the ocean if you’ve never seen it

I am grateful someone wrote this. I wish the media would cover more things like this and less time on pointing fingers and placing blame.

 

The update about the Gretna girls crash had me thinking back today…. back to corn fields on summer nights….. singing at the top of our lungs while driving d…own a county road with our heads out the window so the moon could hear us….. scaring our parents by missing curfew….. scaring ourselves the times we ditched the car/crashed our 4 wheelers/ended up somewhere in over our heads/drank too much….and learning and living along the way. We WERE those girls.

Anyone that wants to find blame in this tragedy…what good is it? Learn from it, but what good is the negativity? Will blaming the friend driving make you feel better? Will it bring them back? Unbreak their mothers hearts?

Teenagers will forever take risks for that moon on their cheeks feeling of freedom. Teenagers will forever do dumb things and 95% of them will have it as a story and a lesson for later.

We WERE those girls. Shit, we ARE those girls.
The difference is they didnt all get the chance to have that night be a memory or a lesson.

So before you say nasty things remember your teen years and tell me that it isn’t by the grace of God that any of us made it this far. Your life is a gift. Live it.

Hug your kids and your friends. Love them. Appreciate every single day you get on this earth. And let this tragedy be a tragedy…not a blame game.

Rest in Paradise you beautiful girls.

Update: I had no clue how far this would reach so I want to clear up…I am not condoning underage drinking. This was an honest personal post about gratefulness, innocence and consequences. Let those without sin cast stones. The rest of us, let’s thank God and pray for these families.

Beneath the arbored root of nature
life breaks ground as consequence
of winter-seed, sweet morning dew,
stimulating Earth with renaissance.

And, Earth, like man stands firm, protects,
aroused by the sense of young flowers
to stem, moisten, blossom and glow,
be pleasured, yes…as flowers must.

And their majesty, in feminine curve
quite sensually with incipient veil,
beckons attention by their perfumed scent;
be wooed, nurtured and satisfied.

Mother Nature challenges with envious scorn,
discharging her elements on each young flower,
reaking her prowess with angst and fury,
until Earth, like Man stands firm, rises-

to the flowers need to flourish, be pleasured
and revel in the essence of her warm, fertile soil.

God paints the most amazing pictures!

Should Christians Care About Politics? | Relatable with Allie Stuckey

 

The two things that are my favorite to receive are flowers and cards. Flowers are just beautiful little individual captures and cards are handwritten notes from someones heart. I keep cards that people send & take them out from time to time. I thought instead of putting my Christmas and other cards away I’d start a prayer board and along with my prayer list display a different card once a week.
It’s easy to say I’ll pray for you but when it’s something you walk by several times a day – it’s a good reminder 💕

I’m not exactly sure this is what I had in mind when I started looking for one but trying to shop local and support the Solid Rock this is what came to me. I think it works perfectly and is a good reminder prayer changes things, to trust God and how extremely blessed I am.

I like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smoothness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh…And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly I like the thrill
of under me you so quite new

– E E Cummings –

On a mound in a valley
A beautiful Orchid is in bloom
Her lovely petals unfurling
As she reaches for the Moon

Dew drops sparkle on her bare petals
Feathery strokes feel like the breath of winds
Her goblet drips with nectar
This is where life begins

Like bees to a honey pot
Opened petals now to greet
Natural rhythm so in tune
The intensity to meet

Her languid smile – her fulfillment
 Heavens approve from above
Now beautifully satiated
This is the gift of love

I just studied Job in my spiritual warfare bible study. It is interesting that Job never once thinks or curses God for his trials and troubles. I never think of my Heavenly Father as a cruel or out to get you Dad either. I always find it interesting that some do or that God punishes us or brings punishment upon us for our choices. That isn’t the Heavenly Dad I know. We discussed those who have lost something in the past. Maybe they needed to come to their knees for God to get their attention. And that there are those that always live on what if and what was, instead of seeing the relationship, the beauty and the opportunity they have right now. It is sad in many ways. Ways I’ve come to be familiar with…ways I have come to dislike.

In one of my readings we talked about living in the past as a form of choice but also as a trap. The Devil likes trapping us in the past, reminding us and also using others through accusations to keep us trapped in the past, what if this and what if that…instead of living with hope right now. Living in the beauty of love God has right now. This reading I found interesting: “Living in Miami from 1965 to 1974, I experienced the massive migration of Cuban refugees firsthand. Castro’s regime and the militant implementation of its socialist ideology created a mass exodus of Cuba’s intellectual and creative class. Families and friends were divided; loved ones would never see
each other again; and in the span of one lifetime, two different worlds were created out of one people. The Cuban migration transformed Miami into what has become known as Little Havana. The Cuban people have experienced tremendous prosperity even though they escaped with nothing but their lives. Those who were left behind were trapped within the borders of the small island we know as Cuba. For them, it was a very different story; it was as if the world stood still. While fifty years have passed, it was
as if a hammer crashed against the clock that measured time, and for them the world stopped the moment their freedom was lost.
It was surreal walking the streets of a city where the transportation seemed to have been resourced by a Hollywood film company. I live in the city that knows how to re-create the past, but now I was walking a city that chose to stay in the past. I could see with my own eyes the tragic effect of making a
stand by holding on to the past and fighting against the future. As romantic and magical as it was to be able to travel across this country trapped in a time long forgotten, it also became for me a harsh reminder
that all of us are in danger of losing the future if we hold on to the past. It was inconvenient to be in a place where there is little Internet, e-mails, texting, and once no contact with the outside world, but those
inconveniences soon gave way to the realization that there are beautiful people there who also see their lives as having no future, no freedom, and no hope.

I thought this question to be very valid….What would you say?
So my question for you is this: When you stand your ground, are you fighting the future (trapped in your past) or fighting for the future (founded in hope)?

Isn’t it interesting for those of us who live in America….A place where we
have great freedom, we choose to live in fear and hold on to the past. We choose to live our lives people pleasing or based on what would other’s think. We choose to not be authentic because it might offend someone or rock the boat. We choose to live double lives – one life here but a different life there. We choose…the prison of fear instead of the freedom of living authentic. God sees everything so at the end of the day – we aren’t living for someone else or fooling anyone…anyone except ourselves that is. And the person we hurt the most is ourself. I don’t know about you, but I want to live completely authentic no matter what and know that I used my last arrow before my grains of sand run out.

Amber husk
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,

treasure
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:

your stalk has caught root

among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.

Beautiful, wide-spread,
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?

At the touch of you,
As if you were an archer with your swift hand at the bow,
The arrows of delight shot through my body.

You were spring,
And I the edge of a cliff,
And a shining waterfall rushed over me.

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a sun beamed harvest,
hunger for the red stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your warm lovely body,
taste the nose of your scented face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes.

Never settle for less… Love is the most beautiful wonderful gift to be shared.

Even a wolf looks good in sheep’s clothing

I have come to realize that I am responsible for my life insurance – not on paper but ‘life”. I cannot ensure how long I live, but I can determine that I will live fully while I’m alive. I think this is one of our greatest challenges:
that we are so gripped with the fear of death that we become afraid to live.

Some people are so afraid of living authentic. Some are waiting for the right moment or the right time – which never comes. Some need the approval of other before they can be authentic or live life. My life is coming to an end. I’m just not sure how fast the grains of sand are dropping through the hourglass. But I know which way gravity is pulling them. I am thankful that God reminds me of my terminal condition as a resident on this planet.
So let me just tell you before you hear it from someone else: I’m dying. But so are you. And this really shouldn’t be sobering or depressing. It should actually be enlightening and empowering.

Because the greatest mistake we make in life is waiting for tomorrow. If you are important to someone – they live it in the now not the tomorrows. If you love someone the now is all you have. Wouldn’t it be ironic if, instead of doctors sending us through a series of procedures to see if we are at risk of dying, “life” insurance was determined after a battery of tests checking to see whether we are actually alive?

Waiting to live life on someone else’s terms, when everyone approves of it, when the time is right? Sign the death certificate of non-authentic heart beats right now – or make a choice to live while the grains of sand are still sifting.

Sometimes your future will call you to stand right in the middle of your past. The difference, of course, is that you are not defined by the past, enslaved by the past, or held captive by it. Never let anyone define you when God has already defined you.

I think about this more and more every day – I read a chapter of a book entitled “Choosing the Future”. People who choose to live in their past and especially can’t wait to remind someone of something in your past – are anchors – not Godly ones either. I have come to grow sorry for people who judge others without knowing them, who use the past in ways to anchor their future into destruction, who choose to not see what God sees in beauty. In my bible study we talked about people who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior – it is pretty difficult to understand and show forgiveness when one doesn’t understand the blood sacrifice of Jesus is the foundation of that forgiveness. I read something this morning – Unless you sleep in my bed connecting to my heart to yours or contribute in nurturing ways to my life your opinion foundationally does NOT matter to me. And at the end of the day – God is the first foundation and those opinions are secondary. I like that.

Set any baggage anchoring you down on FIRE! Set the bitterness on fire; light it up with forgiveness and watch it burn. Put the wounds behind you, put the betrayal behind you, put the disappointment behind you, put the regret behind you, put the failures behind you—or better yet, cut them into pieces, turn them into an altar, and let them burn. All that stuff is just
baggage. It’s too much weight to carry, and it will weigh you down and hold you back. You want joy, love, laughter, a wonderful relationship – then set fire to your anchors.

 

How monotonous our speaking becomes when we speak only to ourselves! And how insulting to the other beings – to foraging black bears and twisted old cypresses –… that no longer sense us talking to them, but only about them, as though they were not present in our world…Small wonder that rivers and forests no longer compel our focus or our fierce devotion. For we walk about such entities only behind their backs, as though they were not participant in our lives. Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds, or whisper to the spider setting the silken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us – and if they still try, we will not likely hear them.

Please remember to Save this Sunday to pray for our President along with 300+ Christian leaders and Franklin Graham., asking followers of Christ across our nation to set aside Sunday, June 2, as a special day of prayer for the President, Donald J. Trump. Will you join us?

The Ongoing Decline of the American Male

http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/ongoing-decline-american-male?fbclid=IwAR3FRc99t0Ger1CAi97gFdlx_6oNjhbuTjL5_ieewmA4UeRo8xRja8BLKPM

The Ongoing Decline of the American Male | Intellectual Takeout ­ ­

“Time to raise men with chests.” Great article. I’m all for women being treated with respect, however men are not women and should not be made into female “look a likes” – I am grateful God created us with distinct differences.

I was thinking of rain drops and snowflakes today. Each one unique to their creator. I was also thinking of God leading the children out of Egypt and how over and over he protected them and over and over they had fear and questioned God. I really have found that each day we are bombarded with little whispers that say – He doesn’t really love you, you should be afraid, where is God in this, will you have enough, what does this person say – there are so many little whispers out there. The important thing is what are we listening to? Who are we listening to?

I was thinking of all the rain and the impact it is having on everyone in some form or another. My sisters looks at the rain and see the flooding around her house. My nephews look at the rain and see a giant swimming pool and exploration area where pirates, mermaids and sharks live. Just like the little dandelion. Who decided it was a weed to be sprayed in our yards? I just heard someone the other day saying how bad they are and unattractive. Who says so – and just because someone says so – does it make it so?

We all have perspectives and opinions and….and…. We all have fears and ideas and concepts – desires, wants, and needs. Yet at the end of the day – what makes yours and what makes mine? Just because we see something as broken, just because we judge someone as broken, just because it doesn’t fit the “standard” or “societal mold” doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful. I know God doesn’t make mistakes and he doesn’t create “junk” just like the rain is welcomed to some and to others enough already. Just like when I see you I may perceive you to be beautiful and you may perceive someone to be broken “junk”. Just like I think dandelions are beautiful and the next person may consider them a weed. That’s what colors the canvas of life.

The bottom line if I wonder if something is or isn’t is checking with God’s word first. After that it is all perception – where He stands never changes with brokenness, fear, mistakes, unknowns, sickness, hurt, pain, joy, gratefulness, hope – His word stands through the rain, the floods, the flowers, the weeds, the todays and tomorrows.

God gave me the free will to determine if a dandelion is a weed or a flower – he gave you the same free will. Just remember next time you see something that “looks” like a weed – God created everything, including you and I, for a purpose. What may seem to be a weed, out of place, not in the right time, not wanted – could really have deep roots and be nourishment for a bee or nourishment for a soul. Choose to see the blessings…after all just because we don’t know the purpose doesn’t mean God doesn’t.

FEAR

As we enter into this time of Memorial weekend, I wonder if many stop and ask themselves what the holiday is for – pools, BBQ, gatherings, golf, or is there so much more? I believe God wishes for his children to be joyful yet at the same time to be intentional and purposeful.

Memorial is a time to honor and remember those who gave all to protect our rights and our Country. As we do so, I believe we each have a part in supporting that mission.

So what is the question for us on this Memorial as we remember those Americans who died on our behalf? I believe that question is —for what shall we live?

Do we live for BBQs, golf, vacations, swimming, etc or do we live intentionally to show the love and light of our Heavenly Father to others?

As I study spiritual warfare, I am reminded we on this earth are always in a spiritual battle. I may never serve in the armed forced, yet I am in a battle every day of my life on this earth. Ephesians 6 reminds us that our ultimate conflict on earth is not between flesh and blood, we engage in spiritual warfare. As we remember this world’s conflict and the bravery of those who have defended our freedom, let us also remember the spiritual battles that every believers must fight. As we engage in spiritual warfare, we have our commander in chief with us and to always remember in whose army we fight.

So when evil strikes in the form of a school shooting or when nature unleashes its fury and devastates property and lives, when children suffer, when people are hungry or homeless and ask “Where is God?!” we must be there and have them see him in us.

We must bring his comfort and his healing to this world. When we live lives of service to those around us, we honor the God who saved us and we honor all those who gave that last full measure to secure for us all the things we enjoy in this nation. We live in one of the most beautiful Nations on earth – and I pray each day we fight to protect those things which make us great, that make us America, that make us Nebraska.

How to Bring More Grace into Your Relationship

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

It’s common practice for a new website or software to go public in what is referred to as a “beta” version.

When Microsoft, for example, launches a new system upgrade it will come out in beta before the “official” or final version is released.

The idea of a beta site is it’s still in test mode.

In other words, it is available for the public to use, but with the understanding that you may find bugs in it. The site is not making any claims to have everything worked out to perfection.

If you are a mature person, you don’t get angry with a beta site if some aspect of its functionality is not doing what you think it should. You give a beta version plenty of grace and the site is counting on you to give grace.

The same principle holds true in a relationship.

Think how much conflict, frustration, and friction we could avoid in our relationship if we treated each other as “beta partners.”

If we could remember that we are all a work in progress – ourselves as well as our partner – life would be exponentially easier.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. –Anne Lamott

So why don’t we do that? For many, the reason rests on an unrealistic level of perfectionism. And perfection was never meant for a relationship.

Of course, this does not mean we should not aim for high standards in our relationship or within ourselves. But there is a huge difference between perfectionism and excellence.

Excellence is not attaining an impossibly out-of-reach goal. It has to do with living up to our potential. Everyone, no matter how lowly, has the potential to attain excellence in his or her life – but not perfection.

When you wake up each morning, give yourself – and your partner – permission live in beta mode, surrounded with lots of grace.

And if you insist on perfection, let it have to do with God’s power being made perfect in your weakness.

Three Essential Ingredients of Romantic Love

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
I Corinthians 16:13-14

If you were designing a recipe for romantic love, what would be your top ingredients?

A mountain of new research reveals what maters most. Robert Sternberg, a Yale University psychologist, says it basically comes down to three ingredients:

Passion – the biological part of love: This it the spine-tingling sensation that moves us toward romance. It starts with our hormones. It’s sensual and sexual, characterized by physiological arousal and an intense desire for affection. The Song of Songs, for example, celebrates the physical love between a man and a woman in passion-filled poetry: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth — for your love is more delightful than wine” (Song of Songs 1:2).

Intimacy – the emotional part of love: Love without intimacy is only a hormonal illusion. You can’t desire another person over the long haul without really knowing that person. Intimacy has a “best friend” or “soul mate” quality about it. We all want someone who knows us better than anyone else — and still accepts us. And we want someone who holds nothing back from us, someone who trusts us with personal secrets. Intimacy fills our heart’s deepest longings for closeness and acceptance.

Commitment – the willful part of love: Commitment looks toward a future that cannot be seen and promises to be there — until death. “Without being bound to the fulfillment of our promises,” writes philosopher Hannah Arendt, “we would be condemned to wander helplessly in the darkness of each person’s lonely heart.” Commitment creates a small island of certainty in the swirling waters of uncertainty. As the mooring of marriage, commitment secures love for our partner when passion burns low and intimacy wanes. Commitment says, “I love you because you are you, not because of what you do or how I feel.”

This book is great so far… It has many thought discussing points and asks the questions do you know why you believe what you believe or do you even know what you believe? There is only one way to Heaven and this book so far has been great about showing the differences in what types of religions and not are out there and how they compare and contrast to Christianity.

Do you ever stop and think about free will? You and I for the most part, can choose to go to work or not, decide on where and what we want to eat, if we want to go to church or not – right? If we want to be straight, gay – get married, divorced, live together. If we want to live in Nebraska or Arizona. If we want to sleep in, get up early, have children or not have children. If today we want to shower or not. If we want to live “authentic” or be a people pleaser. If we want to forgive someone or if we want to hold onto unforgivenes. Even the decision if we want to believe in God or some “other” being or believe there isn’t high power out there at all is ours for the making. We sure have a lot of “free will” and choices. What President to vote for, what political party we belong to, if we believe abortion is just a woman’s choice? Who we are friends with? Who we date and marry? And the list goes on and on….

Choices, decisions, paths, journeys, the unknown and the unexpected – sometimes don’t really seem black and white. After all we have free choice right? Isn’t it completely up to us to decide what is right and wrong, moral and not moral, good and evil? Yet at the end of the day – even though many of us many have a similar compass on the big stuff – like not murdering – if someone was trying to harm you or someone you loved – does murder seem justified? There is justification for everything these days – pick whatever you want – from abortion, to gossip, to reasons to be angry, live in unforgiveness, and blame, reasons why you just can’t be in your relationship anymore because it isn’t working or it is too hard, reasons why you don’t believe in God, reasons why the church just isn’t for you, etc.

We all are bombarded with what other people think, the news, politics, this opinion, feel this way, think this way, this is the “moral” thing to do or not do. I heard on the radio this morning a very well known Atheist group thanking the Democrat party for removing “in God we trust” because it is offensive and serves no purpose. They also went on to say it has been a part of oaths and what America stands for, for around 200 years. And in one swoop it vanishes.

So to me at the end and the beginning of my day – making decisions are pretty simple if I follow one principal ~ What does God say? What does the Bible say? That divides who believes in God, Jesus, the word of God and those who do not. One doesn’t follow something they don’t believe in right? We have free will – you bet. If you don’t believe in God – you probably aren’t going to follow the bible, right? Knowing that I and you have free will and making choices that we know go against the word of God is our choice 100% however the aftermath from those choices are completely ours as well. Making a choice to stay close to God isn’t easy – and there will always be excuses for why choosing the multiple options are much better. I think we just have to stop fooling ourselves into believing that what happens from those “out of God’s way” decisions are someone else’s fault, or blame XYZ for what happens next. In fact I’m pretty tired of others “blaming” life on someone else – don’t like your life or you don’t feel “happy” enough – look in the mirror first.

We all have fallen short – I know I have – yet each day is a clean slate to make a choice how you will live your life. Are your actions, decisions, love, choices based on your family, friends, your feelings, the way the sun came up today – or are they based on the Word of God. It really is as basic as that – the choice is completely up to you – you know free will and all is yours….what you choose to do with it is also yours. What will you choose today?

 

I am so grateful I’m not a prisoner of my past. My past does not define me – God does. Are you holding onto you past to define your present or are you living for a new clean slate day each day in the gratefulness and grace of God? Because you cannot do both successfully. I love this – are you building a prison that you are in around your past? If you stay in the jail cell you limit the ability to love, have joy, live life. I don’t know about you but no way! My God is so much bigger!

“Life gets mighty precious
When there’s less of it to waste.”

“It’s okay to measure the time she has been gone, the way we once measured her birthdays.” Happy Mother’s Day weekend in Heaven Grandma

“When those you love die, the best you can do is honor their spirit for as long as you live. You make a commitment that you’re going to take whatever lesson that person or animal was trying to teach you, and you make it true in your own life… it’s a positive way to keep their spirit alive in the world, by keeping it alive in yourself.”

What a powerful image. Stop and let that soak into every nook of your being.

I hear people talk about being Christ-like. That is what Christ-like looks like to me – plain and simple. Love and trust are my focus for this year and I really wish to eliminate drama and complexity as much as possible. See when you act and speak in love, are completely open and authentic with no hiding and are vulnerable – simplicity comes easier I believe.

People say I love you but what does that mean? When you say something I don’t like, do something I don’t like, when you hurt me, when life becomes “complicated”, when we disagree…then do I still love you or do I walk out on you? Can you imagine having a partner say, “You have given me countless reason not to love you, but I choose to no matter what?” That to me is love. We think relationships fail because of words or acts – in all actuality they fail because of one simple choice ~ that there is an option to walk. I love you IF – BUT – WHEN…I love you upon this CONDITION. And when that is no longer there, shaken or not met….I have not only the choice but the ‘right” to leave. What if God said I have the “right” to leave you so see you later? I’m so glad that isn’t how God designed relationships. God has etched in my heart since I was a little girl that a relationship is a “covenant” relationship. Guessing that is why I’m not married yet…smiling. I with all my core believe that. We make things so complicated and at the end of the day – it is that simple. Love does not have conditions or walking out options. I know that is the kind of partner I want to be and the kind of relationship I believe God wants for all of us.

There is no “I can’t” forgive or love or move past this or ….there is an I choose to. I’m not looking for excuses, rationals, answers….I’m looking at actions and changed behaviors. I’m looking at the person who believes in God’s covenant and says this relationship is that not based on feelings or whims. That is foundation – that is Christ-like, that is Love. I know for me I cannot forgive or love or live in grace in my strength but ONLY in God’s. I pray I continue to grow in that of continuing to become a good partner, a good friend and a good member of the body of Christ.

I’m studying spiritual warfare and my devotional this morning was on spiritual warfare and your relationship – how the Devil uses thoughts, past, fears, and more to attack love, grace, hope, and a relationship of two people. That is so true. I also saw this – it makes me sad as I hear people say I’m living for the weekend, waiting until retirement, someday, etc. I have never been one of those people. I enjoy planning, scheduling, and looking forward to events and gatherings – but I don’t live for the someday. If I never retire so be it, if I don’t live long enough to do XYZ then ok, but I do want to live in a way that I can say most days of this year, if I am given them, I lived with love, grace, joy, laughter, celebration – and not just of my heart but of those around me. I just read about a women’s bible study starting this summer in Hastings and the importance of women friendships to one another. We, at least most, as women need that connection, that support, that strengthening and lifting up one another. God created us for community, He created us for relationship, He created us to love and be loved. Mix that with some gratefulness, worship, joy and sparkle and I think we are set.

As today I celebrate the memory of a dear friend Gail who has been rejoicing in Heaven 6 years and my beloved Aora of 5…I know life is precious. You may not have tomorrow or even an hour from now to say I love you, to hold a hand or share breath….don’t wait for the weekend.

Today is an interesting day. First of all it is National Day of Prayer – and I could use some of that. Today my heart is heavy in ways – I’m supposed to understand being hurt because it is no big deal…yet to me a big deal. I’ve had two – get over it no big deals in the last month – and I haven’t fully recovered from the last sting. It isn’t fun, it isn’t what I “signed” up for. It isn’t the way I wish to be loved.

Yet God is developing my armor piece by piece. I still fall short in anger through hurt and I yet forget that the Devil is behind the pain, that I am not fighting earthly fights but spiritual ones. It is easy to forget that. It is easy to let down our guard and not be aware of the snares that are out there. Yet I’ve read the end of the story and I know how victorious I am because my Heavenly Dad is. He is slowly equipping me to walk on those stormy water waves one step of faith at a time. We will be hurt by others who do not place great value on our feelings, who do not hold our insecurities that have been created with loving hands, who say it’s no big deal….and be happy…but God moment by moment strengthens us in the fire if we surrender and let him. He dries our tears, he holds our heart, he never lets go of our hand. Wouldn’t it be great in our relationships if we really lived that way. What an amazing world this could be.

As I begin this day with a new step of strengthening, sharpening, and even some pain in the molding, I received a text that said your package has been delivered. I wondered why that had been taking so long. A friend of mine was in a hit and run bicycle accident before work one morning. It left her close to death and she now has to relearn pretty much everything. A year later she still cannot drive. Her therapist has her sit in the car and got through the motions of driving. She is also a writer and beautifully took us all through the journey of emotions she had the first time she sat behind the wheel of her car. It was overwhelming, yet her faith is so strong. She truly is being molded through this experience. So I mailed her a butterfly winged cape to remind her that when moments came, as the car experience did, that she was just in a cocoon and God was forming her to be a new butterfly with amazing beautiful wings.

The text this morning…could have only been created by God’s handy work as her package arrived today – the day of her birthday. I had nothing to do with that, but it was another touch from my Heavenly Dad saying, “I got this.” And I so needed to hear that today.

It was a beautiful Easter weekend of God, nature and being. I enjoy weekends such as those. I kept hearing the message of love.

Love is an action. It isn’t passive. It doesn’t show up and say what can you do for me? Or when you are perfect I will love you? Or if you have no sins than you are worthy of being loved? Love says because you are imperfect I love you, because you are you I love you, no matter what I will love you.

What if we loved like that in our relationship? We wonder why there are so many divorces and separations? It is exactly that. I will love you IF. I will love you ONLY IF THESE CONDITIONS ARE MET. I will love you WHEN IT FITS NEATLY INTO MY WORLD. I will love you when YOU MAKE ME HAPPY. I ….I….and I. There is no WE in that. And what I personally see if it isn’t working for ME at the moment…than it is easy to walk away, to “have space” or “to take a break.” You know there are a few people left in this world – and I thank God for their examples – that love means never giving up, hanging in there NO MATTER WHAT, and even when it doesn’t FEEL like a we…their eyes are set on faith not what they can see earthly.

Loving someone so much that you believe they have your best interests at heart, that they just need time, that they are working towards a commitment or a Godly relationship…is wonderful…but not always true. I have found that when you put your faith more into a person than you do into God….it is easy to become broken and shattered. Even in a relationship of WE, the strongest and best WE, each are accountable and responsible for their actions – no excuses, no people pleasing and no passing the martyr buck…because at the end of the day if we think of it as if we are standing in front of our Heavenly Dad – each are accountable. I am accountable for my actions as a daughter of God, as a good partner, as a good friend, etc. No one else. The whys, excuses, what ifs and more will not matter – because it will be me.

While we will never love perfect on this earth – we can stop the excuses, the somedays, the what if’s and just be real, authentic and accountable. Want to love – then do it. Want a relationship than live it. Life is pretty simple. Want to complicate it by living your life based on the opinions of others and self protection of ME – do that to but don’t expect a healthy, loving relationship out of it. God has given us all the tools needed to having a loving wonderful relationship. It is up to me and you to use them.

“On this Good Friday may we never forget the true meaning of Easter – ‘For when He was on the cross, I was on His mind.”

I was thinking today about love. When we measure love by God’s standards…it really is the most amazing gift. God gave his only son to die for you and me. We deserve death but through him we have eternal life – the greatest love gift of all. I thought about secrets, hiding, separation, being afraid to live authentic….none of that is important when our focus is on God as if He is for us than who can be against us.

I’m starting a 9 week study on spiritual warfare and I’m extremely excited about it. I’ve taking bible studies on it before and I grew up from the time I can remember knowing about fighting on a spiritual level versus and earthly one My Grandmother not only believed it but taught it and lived it. The need to keep secrets, the fear of loving and being loved, the choice of separation instead of choosing love and choosing running over love are part of a wonderful plan by the Devil to keep us in bondage. Fear, depression, secrets, not being who you are, people pleasing – those are tools used against us. God sees and knows everything. I guess that could be a stressful thing for some but I am grateful for it. He knows when I go off the path – even though he wants me to tell him – he already knows. I recently read something that etched – “those who grow up loved have a different life view than those that grew up surviving.” I thought how do I see the world? I see it with bright eyes of a child most times – excited, wonder, carefree, love, joy, adventure, play, trust, tenderness. I really do try to see the best in others because seeing the worst in them creates nothing. I do know this – if you choose to live in the past and hold onto someone’s past there is no sight of the future. Aren’t you glad God doesn’t hold onto your past? I’m sorry my son or daughter – you aren’t welcomed at Easter dinner with me, you cannot sit by my side, you cannot…you are not welcomed because of your past. Can you imagine how much that would hurt if your Heavenly Father said that to you? Yet we do it to those we profess to love.

If God sees us as beautifully created children of God – I wonder how does someone who says they love someone see them as only their past – see them as someone to hide and see them as someone to separate from because it is easier. I just don’t understand it. God doesn’t see us that way nor does he say that is how love works. Love is open, honest, doesn’t let go. 11 years of not letting go…this Saturday the 20th I understand…love doesn’t let go. Love is based on being there, foundation (even when it cracks), support and the playful side of me says shouting it from the rooftops. Love doesn’t let go – it does shout I love you in little and big ways. I’m so glad my Heavenly Dad gave me an example to model of love. While I can never match the ultimate gift he has given me, I can love by example. I can sit at his feet in worship, I can hold the hand of my partner no matter what and never let go, I can walk with a friend during their worst times, I can pray for those who say negative things regarding me, I can to the best of my abilities be love. I’m excited for this Easter. Tomorrow reflecting on many memories over the past 11 years and although not my top choice of colors at moment – God and the Heavens say we shall never leave you nor forsake you. And because of that eternal gift some glorious day I’ll be welcomed to my real home and I will see all of their faces again. That is also something worth shouting about!

April 20th

“But God says
I will be a ring of fire around her and
I will be the glory in her midst
And the power of My presence
Will bring her to her knees”

Throughout the song, we hear the stories of many famous Bible figures such as Hagar, a single mother and Ruth, the widow. Over and over again, God reminds each and every one of these figures that He walks with them each step of the way.

A great article I read today from one of my devotional sites. I was thinking isn’t it crazy the labels we place on women but not men. I’m not for feminism and I appreciate a gentleman however it seems like our culture continues to award multiple online dates, not making a commitment and never say the word marriage. That it is good for men to keep their options open, never make a commitment, be a “player” all while God says the opposite – commitment is the foundation, loving your partner completely, dating exclusively one person at a time to guard the heart of another is they way to go. I’ve never believed in non-exclusive dating however it seems more and more people do. We have created a throw away relationship society and it does make me ill.

“We live in a society that seems to be perpetuating this horrific double-standard.

A double standard in which women are encouraged to flaunt their body and use their curves to get attention.
A double standard that pressures them into seeing their sexuality as a commodity to be given as a way to earn something they may not otherwise achieve.
A double standard that views them as trophies, as objects, and as rewards.
A double standard that praises and applauds them for their sex appeal and promiscuity in one breath- and then uses it against them in the next. Hoes. Sluts. Whores.

It boggles my mind how this barbaric view is still so easily accepted in our society. Even today – we still resemble the uncivilized ancient era – in which a sexually promiscuous woman would be stoned to death while her male counterpart looked on, and worse yet, took part in the stoning ritual.
While we may not be holding stones, still- we call our women hoes. But our men…men are considered the “players”- a verbal pat on the back. Our terminology is latent with gender-biased shame.
And even in the church, there’s the same dangerous undertone. Why is it that our “say no to sex” and our “modesty” campaigns seem to revolve around the female gender- while the responsibility of the male gender often gets overlooked and ignored? Are we telling men that commitment, authenticity and love are highly valued?
But here’s the thing. I don’t just want to rant about what is wrong, because this is about so much more than blame, it’s about change.
Somehow, someway, we have to start doing this the right way. I look at Jesus in the New Testament, and I’m filled with hope as I look at his approach toward women.

The ones called prostitutes, he calls loved.
The ones considered promiscuous, he befriends.
The ones shamed and ignored, he redeems.

And when face-to-face with the adulterous woman- instead of casting the stones…he calls out those throwing the stones.
Go….and sin no more. Because Dear One- You deserve so much better than this.
Our society is in need of a desperate change. I don’t know how, and I don’t even know where to begin. I just know that this change has got to begin with me. It’s time to shift our societal norms and pressures, starting from what we believe all the way to what we watch, discuss, and listen to. It’s time to say no to the entertainment, the magazines, and the media that reinforce the sexualization of women- and instead remember that our value is rooted in SO MUCH MORE. It’s time to balance the responsibility that we place on our young men and our young women– calling them to be of grace, of honor, of purity, and of respect.
It’s time to rip off the false labels that praise men and yet pound women for their sex drive- and instead, see our sexuality as it was meant to be seen- as God’s incredible gift. A gift that is worthy to be nourished, to be valued, to be saved and then to be SAVORED- at just the right time in just the right way. Jesus came to set the captives free by BREAKING societal norms- it’s time for us to do the same through His Spirit, here and now, in our very own lives. Commitment is the foundation – not open, non-exclusive relationships. Which one are you rooted in?”

Love is a 1 – Commitment, 2 – Not running 3- Unconditional 4- love is not a feeling it is an action 5 – words are empty without action

 

A thought provoking sermon, from Pastor Wine who is now the district superintendent of the Assemblies of God, on the differences of ministry, pastoralship and being who we are.

Love is not a feeling; it’s a decision. It’s not something you experience; it’s something you choose to do. It’s not an emotion; it’s an ability. It’s not something that happens to you; it’s something you nurture and orchestrate and develop. Love is a deliberate and determined act of the will. There is nothing idle or passive about it. It doesn’t wane or fail when life gets tough; it only grows stronger and more resolved. It’s the bond that keeps your relationship from drifting when every storm in the ocean is raging to tear you apart. It’s the one thing you can depend on when all of life seems bent on getting you down.

If your man is any of the below – ask him if he plans on addressing these issues because if not – he is choosing to remain unhealthy.

Mr. Not That Into YouHe likes you but can’t say he loves you.  He enjoying being with you just not enough to say your his partner.  Great to be around when it’s all fun and game yet when it comes to the serious where is he? With someone else?

Mr. On Again & Off Again
One moment you’re “the one” and the next moment he’s confused, confined, and non-committal.

Mr. Out of Sight Out of Mind
This guy is sweet, charming, flirtatious, and basically everything you imagined him to be, while you’re around. But when you’re not around? Well, he’ll be that same sweet, charming, and flirtatious guy with someone else. For him, it’s not about commitment, it’s about the moment.

Mr. Keepin’ My Options Open
Oh yeah, he says he’s interested. He might even tell you he’s in love. But then why can’t he let go of his past? Why do you find yourself worried about who else he’s interacting with, and how he’s interacting with them? A healthy relationship is one man one woman.

Mr. Let’s Get Physical, Physical
Want to get physical yet he won’t go to church with you? Don’t get stuck in the physical, because healthy relationships are built on so much more than this.

Mr. I Don’t Wanna Grow Up & Mr. All About Me
A relationship with this guy is sure to be one-sided. He doesn’t care what you want, or even who you are, because he makes all the choices and his preferences always trump yours. Look for a man who is marked by humility and selflessness…because that is what it takes in a relationship.

Mr. White Lies
A lie, is a lie, is a lie. He hides you and your relationship? This guy is marked by a pattern of secrets and little white lies. Lies about things that might not even matter but what matters is the facade that’s being maintained. A man should be proud to say you are his lady.  A man who has nothing to hide becomes a safe place in which a woman can hide her heart.

HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY JOE!

We live in a world brimming with rude manners, selfishness and poor intentions. At some point, we’ve all been let down, manipulated, or hurt. And when we are backstabbed, heart-broken or betrayed, it’s empowering to grow cold towards the people who have hurt us. Often, our first reaction is to strike back or feel bitter.

John, one of Jesus’s best friends, makes it clear that you can’t love God and despise God’s people. And guess what? All people are God’s people. If we love God, we have to love others. So how do we love those who hurt us?

Lord, thank you for all you do in my life. Thank you for all you provide for me and the direction you give. Thank you for protecting me and being my strength every day. Lord, today I lift up my heart to you because it is filling with hurt that I can’t seem to mange. Every time I think about this, I just get wounded all over again. I can feel the pain inside me build, and I just know the weight is doing something to me.

I ask, Lord, that you intervene in my life to help me overcome this. I know you warn against letting it fester. I know you ask us to love rather than live in unforgiveness regardless of others actions. While my pain is valid you do not wish me to live there. You forgive us all for our sins rather than letting us be angry. Your son died on a cross for our sins rather than you allowing yourself to despise us. He couldn’t even hate his captors. No, you are the ultimate in forgiveness and overcoming even the potential for bitterness. The only thing you hate is sin, but it is a thing, and you still offer up your grace when we fail.

Yet, Lord, I’m struggling with this situation, and I need you to help me. I am hurt.  It is distasteful.  I know it is taking hold, and I know you are the only one strong enough to get me beyond this. Help me go from deep hurt to forgiveness. I no longer want to be clouded.  Lord, I want removed this heaviness in my heart. Heavenly Father you made me to love and be loved.

I am struggling right now, Lord, and you are my savior and my support. Lord, please let your spirit into my heart so that I can love. Fill me with your light and let me see clear enough to come out of this fog. Lord, be my everything at this moment so I can be the person you desire for me.

Thank you, Lord.  In your name, Amen.

Have you ever tried to rope a calf? I’ve seen many try and my favorite is watching my Dad and nephews rope a non-moving bucket. Sometimes it looks pretty easy and possibly at times it is, but when you have a moving target it gets a little more complicated.

Just like life and all it’s colors…sometimes it get complicated and the moving target, no matter how hard you try, just seems to slip out of your rope. It could be a relationship, it could be job, it could be really trying to read your bible more or take more rest time…whatever your moving target it, sometimes no matter how hard you try to rope it…you come up empty handed.

I have been thinking about a relationship this week. Someone that I dearly love that over and over again says I don’t know why I’m this way or maybe someday Shana or even…I try to do better yet chooses secrets over authenticity hurt me deeply. I am far from perfect but I do know a relationship takes two people who stop saying I”m trying and start saying I’m doing – action at some point replaces just talking about it. In fact just thinking about this week makes me sick to my stomach. I thought about this week and how angry and hurt I am for the “hiding’ and secrets for the well “that was then and this is now” mentality but I do care about you and want to be with you. In no shape or from did God create me to be someone’s “hidden” but for someone who stands up with a back bone regardless of who likes it or not. Living with a backbone has always been important to me. Even if you don’t make the best choices – make them! DON’T BE A FLAT SQUIRREL because you like sitting in the middle of the road. So I thought what can I do, what am I to do… as I am only responsible for my word and actions and I 1) want to be the best daughter of God I can be and 2) I want to be the best partner I can be.

So imagine me trying to rope something? Let’s call it love, commitment, authenticity, accountability, expecting another to have a back bone and all the things that I know God says are good, true, lovely, joyful….trying to rope them. Now if they were things that were standing still I could maybe do it. But, add someone else to the mix and how they are responsible for their words and actions and the targets are now moving.

God my rope is good. My rope is stronger than it has been. I try over and over and I’m investing in your word and your way of being a good daughter, being a good partner and I keep coming up empty handed…broken hearted, hurt, angry and made to feel like it is “ok” to be hidden or I have to live in my past so that is the reason for the hidden. That someday being loved is good but just to hold on. That there is something wrong with wanting to live a life authentic of loving and being loved. Why when my rope is good and strong do I keep missing the targets? Sitting listening to the water and the sound of nature all around plus the patter of little purring paws God whispered to me. He said my child do something for me….

I handed my rope to God and I took his.

It wasn’t about quitting or getting mad, this situation had moved beyond my current ability and state of mind and body.
It is was if God was saying…hand me your rope and I take mine in the form of my word…keep your eyes focused on me and I will rope all those beautiful targets for you I promised you. God’s rope is how much he loves me…he is never changing and he is always there. He keeps reminding me how very much I am loved and treasured. He sent his son to die for me…can you imagine a love like that?

When I handed my rope off, I felt the hurt slowly start to heal…and the weight begin to lighten.

I know a lot of you are trying to live a good Christian life. Maybe you’ve been trying for years and maybe you’re just thinking about starting, but the lesson is the same. It is about faith – God sent his son Jesus to die for our sins, he didn’t have to but chose to take them (that is why love is a choice) rose again and is coming back to take those who believe (faith) to be with him for eternity in Heaven. It isn’t about legalism (how good you are, how sinless you are, how many people you can please by living a double life, how perfect your past is). Legalism is when you try to follow God and you depend on your own efforts. Your successes depend only on what you can accomplish. Your relationship with God depends on what you do, not what his Son did.
Legalism will steal your joy in life and rob you of your happiness. Do you know a miserable Christian? It’s probably because they are too busy following rules instead of following Jesus.
Legalism makes people feel guilty instead of loved. It produces self-hatred instead of humility. Legalism puts performance way above relationship. Legalism says in order to get better, you have to work harder. Instead of us being able to see how far we’ve come, legalism shows us how far we fall short.
So what do we do?

You hand your rope off to the man that can get the job done. Jesus came to earth to do what we couldn’t. He came to throw the perfect shots when all of ours fell short. You still have a part to play. You don’t get to go sit in the recliner and expect to be a good child of God or a good partner. You still participate and do your job, but don’t put your faith in what you can accomplish, revel in what Jesus accomplishes for us.
And that problem you’ve been dealing with? Ask yourself 1) are you doing your part to be the best child of God you can be 2) are you doing your part to be the best partner in a relationship you can be 3) if you answered NO to those questions than you need to get your butt out of the recliner and take action (not just talk about it) and if you answered YES then….hand off your rope.

Hand your rope off and you’ll probably see those moving targets are not so tricky as you originally thought.

What has happened to all your joy? -Galatians 4:15

“Absence is a house so vast that inside you will pass through its walls and hang pictures on the air.”

Living a double life happens when you justify two different kinds of behavior in your mind

That it is ok to treat your partner one way but expect to be treated with love and respect. That hiding someone is permissible to keep “others” happy. That you believe people should be open and authentic but that little white lies don’t hurt. A double-minded person is unstable in everything that they do.  Is people pleasing really worth not living authentic because they may not like you anymore? If someone stops loving you because you are living an authentic life – perhaps they should look in the mirror because that is not love. Living like two different people isn’t God’s plan for you.  Sometime you have to take a chance and introduce your partner into your real life – your authentic life and see what happens. Do you live by Fear or by Faith?

A double life is when we pretend to be one person and we are another person depending on who we are around or the situation.
People who live double lives possess a spirit of fear, the fear of not people pleasing or not really knowing who they are and living it.

Hiding a relationship, hiding a partner or not being the same person when they are with their partner as they are with certain friends or family members is a disease. What causes a person to not be open and transparent? Have you ever heard someone say, “I preferred being the person you wanted me to be rather than risk being myself.” Why?

Living a double life as a Christian is something we are often warned against. If God is for us than who can be against us? God does not want us to live with a spirit of fear, or of lukewarmness or people pleasing. John talks about how Jesus is grieved by lukewarm hearts that just can’t seem to choose who they really are.
There’s only one antidote to a double life and that’s a heart that removes fear and lives by faith. It’s not always easy, and sometime we have to not focus on the what if this happens or what if this person doesn’t like something and trust that God created us to be who we are in truth, vulnerability and openness. By being the same person with our partner that we are with our friends and family maybe difficult yet it lead us to greater relief and peace. Being the same person we are in Church on Sunday and out on the street on Wednesday creates peace.
Often, we are afraid to be real because we aren’t in complete control of if someone likes us or not when we are transparent. You are only responsible for your actions and reactions not someone else. Leave that part up to God. Unless we let the light of who we are authentically shine through our brokenness, then the chaos of living a double life awaits us.

  1. Growing Bondage
    The world would like you to think that living a double life affects the surface only. But actually not being authentic in all areas of our life only hooks us into something unhealthy. If you choose to not be real, you create situations that aren’t real. It gets pretty tiring having to keep compartments for this person and that person and so forth. Why not just live real and authentic in all areas. Less stress?
    God set you free from the consequence and bondage of sin when you gave your life to him. So why choose to hide who you are? John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    In Jesus, we find freedom and as we walk in Him. He eliminates the difference between the version of us in public and us in private. The version of us with our partner and the version of us when we aren’t with are partner. Starting to get it? Same person = same person.
  2. Loss of Hope
    In God’s presence alone do we find unending hope, but that hope can be choked off by the deception of a double life. We find the greatest hope only through Christ, which comes when we allow Him to enter our hearts to do the mighty work of transformation in us. You are no longer your past, your past mistakes or sins. Give grace to yourself and to others is the best way to live an authentic here and now life.

When you people please or act one way with your partner and another way with let’s say your family too long it becomes a cancer that can impact not only us but also everyone around us.

Lack of authenticity is unhealthy. For example: the shrapnel caused by hiding a partner or relationship can actually begin to destroy the relationship. No one wants to be hidden or ignored when a vacation, holiday or just every day celebration takes place.
We owe it to ourselves, but we also owe it to the people we love, especially our partner, to address these issues, and try to get them extracted, like a cancer, out of our lives. So, what do we do to keep these things from happening? What are we doing to remove the people pleasing from our relationships and live in an authentic loving relationship?

When a ship is built, each part has a voice of its own. As seamen walk through the new ship, they can almost hear the creaking whispers: “I am a rivet!” “I am a sheet of steel!” “I am a propeller!” “I am a beam!” For a while these little voices sing their individual songs, proudly independent and fiercely self-protective.

But then a storm blows in on the high seas. The waves toss, the gales hurl and the rains beat. If the parts of the ship tried to withstand the pummeling independent from one another, each would be lost. On the bridge, however, stands the captain. He issues orders that take all of the little voices and bring them together for a larger purpose. By the time the vessel has weathered the storm, sailors sense a new and deeper song echoing from stem to stern: “I am a ship!”

Our Captain calls each of us, especially in a relationship, to be a team, to blend together spiritually and in all ways and to weather the storms. Those who hear the Captain’s call are able to sail true and strong. And those who have that strong sense of service to their partner and self-awareness are able to give out of the love and grace of our Lord.

If there is no such thing as failure there is no drive to succeed.

A great video of why socialism is a desired outcome by some individuals in America. Life isn’t fair – you can’t please everyone – not everyone plays nice in the sandbox. At the end of the day – HAVE A BACK BONE! Suck it up and move on. Stand up for yourself and your choices. I’m sorry we aren’t all created equal or alike – that is life. God did create all of us equally as his children in Heaven but we live in a broken world where we are ALL sinners (and yes God sees every action – everyone that you think you are hiding from others), we all fall short and life is messy, crazy, broken and messed up. We do the best we can and in doing so if we really want to be the best partner, child of God, sister, whatever – we can try to be – not perfect but each day with a clean slate GO FOR IT! But if we try to be all things to all people, wear a mask, make sure that I’ll be this way in front of you but live a different life in front of someone else you have now just sold your soul (and backbone) to the next highest bidder!

I am grateful for each day that I use my backbone instead of being politically correct. That I speak my mind – in kindness – but with conviction. That participation trophies don’t get handed out for just being in a relationship or thinking about it but actually stepping up to the plate and being a good partner. You don’t get the sister of the year award or friendship award for doing things your way all the time. I applaud people with a back bone. Even when you make a mistake you’d rather make it and own it than wear a mask and hide in the shadows for fear of offending someone or rocking their Easter basket. Here’s to backbones and using them!

I thought a lot about this sentence today. I am sure in the week to come I will think on it a great deal. We all have choices. It is pretty scary and sometimes really tough to say I’m not going to use excuses – I don’t know, I’m not ready, I’m not sure why….because at the end of the day we have a choice. I do and you do. I can choose to love or choose to say someday. I can choose to live my actions or say I don’t know why I behave or choose this. I can live with intention or let others make my choices because I can tell myself – it is for their benefit or it is keeping things smooth or going with the flow. I can choose to be a good partner or I can just live casually.

I’m not a go with the flow person when it comes to living my life with intention. I think at some point it is either I’m accountable for my joy and actions or I let everyone else be. This applies to every day moments, a partnership relationship, relationships with friends and family, jobs, life choice, attending church, walking with my Heavenly Father – all of it.

I just watched the movie Unplanned. It wasn’t a movie that I couldn’t wait to watch because I knew emotionally it would be hard. But I ask you regardless of your belief to go see it. It is playing at Cinema 8. If you are already Pro-Life, go and see that these people who work in those facilities believe they are helping and that is why they are there. If you are Pro-Choice, please go and expose yourself to a different perspective and compare that to your own reasons for your vote. If you’re unsure or just curious for more info, GO. If you have a voice on this issue I ask you to see this movie.

 

The most important question we can each ask ourselves is “Where will I spend eternity?” It is the most vital questions you will ever need to know the answer to.

There will be “bad” people in Heaven—and by “bad” I mean garden-variety sinners who admit their sin and ask God to forgive them. There also will be “good” people in Hell—people who were moral to some degree but thought they didn’t need Jesus Christ. They lived by their own rules and deceived themselves, thinking their good deeds would save them.

You don’t get to Heaven by living a good life. And you don’t end up in Hell by living a bad life. Heaven is not for good people; Heaven is for forgiven people. Everyone who turns from their sin can go to Heaven. This is why God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross.

Attending church will not make you a Christian. In fact, attending church will make you accountable for what you’ve heard. If you listen to God’s Word being taught and then disregard it, that is almost worse than garden-variety sinners. At least they know they’re sinners and admit it. Church attendance or having your name on a church membership roll won’t get you to Heaven.

John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (NKJV). It is not just that someone is a sinner; it’s that he or she rejected God’s solution.

God is saying, “I love you. I don’t want you to go to Hell. I put My own wrath on my Son, whom I love, so you can be forgiven.”

That rejection of Jesus is what brings judgment. It isn’t going to be a sin question in the final day. It’s going to be a Son question: What did you do with Jesus?

I’ve started a prayer book this year that I keep notes in to pray for people and I’m working on my prayer card list. It is fun for me and something I’ve been led to do. If a day goes by that you “think” you don’t have someone to pray for….think again. There are so many people in need from health struggles, financial set backs, relationship issues, job issues, bad news received today and so much more. The ones I especially think of that sometimes fall through the cracks are those that don’t believe in God, don’t know where they will spend eternity (even Christian professed people) and those that don’t think there is a Heaven or Hell at all. Unsaved people need our prays oh so much. Then I think of a discussion recently about how the Devil targets Christians and the closer you try to walk to God the more the Devil at times pour out onto us. So bottom line we ALL need prayer.

While I was thinking about recent prayer requests I’ve received and a few that I just know need prayer for their own reasons I was thinking about gratitude. Having a grateful heart before God way before starting my prayer moment. Just to spend some time in his presence being his daughter is pretty amazing. I have been thinking on how to increase being grateful for a relationship and a partner and what qualities to increase on that. I found this devotional in my reading that I really like. I especially liked ”
generous spirit “.

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.”
– Alexander Woolcott

  1. See something, say something
    It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be short and sweet. Be on the lookout for any chance you have to pass on a compliment, show appreciation, or let them know you notice something positive they did. A little bit of reinforcement can go a long way.
  2. Celebrate good news
  3. Create an awe wall
    It’s filled with things that heighten our awareness and amazement. The board is continually changing, and sparks countless conversations. It’s a constant reminder of the positive things in our life.
  4. Don’t neglect the celebration of sex
    When it comes to celebrating each other, sex is one of the greatest activities a couple can participate in.
  5. Listen to the music
    The gift of music runs deep. It’s essential to bring music into the arena of celebrating each other. As Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on.”
  6. 6. Be generous in spirit
    Couples who report a high amount of generosity in their relationship are five times more likely to say their relationship is very happy. When we celebrate each other with generosity, it comes from the heart. So how do we cultivate a generous spirit in our relationships? The first task is to put away the scoreboard. This may be hard for some, but if you are keeping track of who gets what, you’ll never get there!
    Second, focus on what your partner likes. It doesn’t have to be anything that is elaborate or expensive. A little bit goes a long way. Does it mean a lot to your partner when you bring them a cup of coffee in the morning? Maybe by sweeping the porch, or simply watching their favorite movie with them? Generosity works best when it signals to your partner that you know them and their personal desires well.
    Third, don’t neglect the intangibles. Sometimes generosity is when we give our partner the benefit of the doubt by not reasoning with them or asking questions, or by crediting our partner for a good idea or intention. And generosity is certainly found when we give our time. A generous spirit sets selfishness aside and gives.
    Lastly, remember to give without expecting anything in return. Generosity is never a down payment on something you’ve been wanting. Generosity is only as valid as the motivation behind it. It must come from the heart with no motives attached.

Celebrating each other chips away at whatever is holding us captive. By celebrating we evoke the best in each other – which in turn helps both partners come closer to reaching their best selves.

I love my life & this is a great motto of the way I’m investing in living it.

Don’t commit to someone who will “make you happy”, commit to someone who you will love and who will love you no matter what life will bring your way.

I enjoy studying human behavior. This article is pretty on point to some of the relationships I see today. Yet the amazing thing is I see a few that aren’t. I see a few that work on the foundation of commitment, love, sacrifice, openness, togetherness all while having a God thread through out all of it.

I love the fact that every moment of our lives creates who we are at this very moment. I’m extremely grateful for it. You are not a simple statistic-you’re created by a God who came to redeem you from the brokenness of your past and give you a hope for your future. A God who came to make all things new. No matter who you are or what you come from, your future YOURS to take ownership of.
Because your past can either paralyze you, or empower you.

Great article:

Too many singles are absolutely confused about what makes a relationship “marriage worthy”. Priorities are completely upside down.

And I don’t totally blame them.

I’m here to tell you that none of those things define love. Not one of them. Because none of these things are the key ingredients to what makes a good relationship or marriage.

Love is not chemistry.
Love is not sex.
Love is not infatuation.

No, real love, is so much more. And oftentimes, in search for all of the other things, it gets missed along the way. After a decade of marriage, I can tell you this much: real love is something that runs deep.

Real love isn’t found in someone who is sexy – but someone who is selfless.
Real love isn’t found in someone who is fashionable – but someone who is forgiving.
Real love isn’t found in someone who is popular – but someone who is patient.
Real love isn’t found in someone who is loaded – but someone who is loyal.
Real love isn’t found in someone who is gorgeous – but someone who is godly.

This is what makes a good relationship or marriage.

I challenge you to take a second look at your “standard” of what you’re looking for in a relationship and ask yourself this:

Am I after qualities that bring short-term pleasure, or qualities that will last a lifetime? Am I striving personally to have these qualities to bring to my relationship?

You carry memories and visions in your bones,…
in your heart and hips;
your dreams are a legacy for moments yet to come.
With this very breath, with your presence,
you are touching both past and future,
and the luminous web of life
is touching you back.

Embedded in your precious body are
ancient maps to guide you on your awakening path,
a legacy your ancestors left for you
in your hair and skin, in the memory of your breath.
A landscape of original instruction
written into the hills of bellies,
dunes of breasts and caves of entrance.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
Your body is a direct portal opening into
a luminous tapestry that vibrates
through time and space, through every atom,
cell, forest, mountain and star; that is weaving
the threads of your living heart to his.
Here awaits your knowing, your sensual,
your ecstatic passion belonging.

Once you find HER you have to stop looking for another HER my man. This is how you start to find more things to not like, more reasons to argue, more thoughts to why it’s not working. Focus on what you have my friend, if you water it and nurture it, it’ll most likely become the greatest relationship you can find. If not, you’ll always spend that time and energy looking for another that will never be HER instead of investing in HER and your relationship with HER.

We are enjoying the first day of spring! “Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil.”‘ ~ Bishop Reginald Heber

BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD….

Are you waiting to get your ducks in a row or are you trusting God?

A great sermon I listened to today. I believe it is so true.

“If you are 55% sure of something – loving someone, making a commitment, choosing a church, taking this job…what ever that “something” maybe – DO IT!


If God is on your side who can be against you. BUT if you live your life for certainty – waiting for the sure thing – is this for certain the right person, do I know I’m really in love, do I believe 80% that this church is right for me. If you are waiting for that or for someday, to be 85% “sure” –  someday will pass you by, along with it people, opportunities and more that God has placed on your path, because someday is this very moment. Someday will never have the sure guarantee you are waiting for, thus “someday” will never ever be enough as you keep waiting and waiting for the percentage of certainty to increase. The one that will never arrive.

If you are living that way – you’ll always be afraid of loosing a little instead of stepping out in faith gaining a lot.

One of the best articles I’ve read:

Every Time Democrats Talk, I Want To Vote For Trump Twice

 

“Every time the Democrats and their media allies peddle yet another “end of the Trump presidency bombshell,” I laugh hysterically. If I laughed any harder, people would think I was having an epileptic seizure.
Who needs last year’s bombshells when we have today’s contestants! The Donkey Party has a new leader: someone called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Every time her bright red lips form a sentence, I hear a clarion call: Must Vote For Trump! Unlike AOC, I actually know firsthand what socialism is. I don’t need to imagine the future that AOC is trying to shove down my throat––I lived in that future and I pray I’ll never have to live in that future again.

Every time AOC proposes to build trains to Europe, or wants butt plugs for cows to control their flatulence, or wants to spend $93 trillion on fairyland, I really, really want to vote for Trump. So make Ocasio-Cortez more visible! Make Ocasio-Cortez speaker of the House! Make her the keynote speaker at the convention!

All the CNN talking heads agree that Trump is an idiot? Maybe, but at least he isn’t planning to ban my car. Trump lies? Maybe, but with Trump, we’ll still have airplanes (and my 401(k) plan has been doing great since his election).
I will personally call every one of my friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, and beg them to vote for Trump. I will even offer to come and wash their cars while in the nude, if only they’d vote for Trump.
and let me tell you, dear Democrats: I am motivated as hell. If ever given a choice (in this election or in other ones) between Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, Pelosi, Warren, Harris, Booker, Biden, Sanders, or Trump, I will take Trump any day of the week.

I am a highly motivated Trump voter because the Democrats have motivated me up to my eyeballs. I have never been more motivated in my life, because the Democrats are terrifying me. I am locked, cocked, and ready to rock in that voting booth. I just wish I didn’t have to wait 20 months.”

 

The last couple of days have been a true testament in how Nebraskans step up. We’ve had blizzards to flooding across the state. We’ve seen all the pictures of the devastation. We all pray for one another. We need to lift one another up. One small act of kindness goes a long ways. We’ve seen the blessings of people helping one another. Let’s make those moments greater than the storm.

Images taken by a friend of my from up North. She said it is a reminder to remember God’s goodness and there is always beauty that comes through devastating times.

If you look back in the bible God sent the plagues, the flood, and He purposely hurled Jonah into a storm in the sea to send a message to him. In each of these… situations God was sending a message, as He is now in this natural disaster He is sending to us.

A message to be kinder.
A message to love your fellow man, even with differences.
A message to be quiet and listen to Him.
A message that this is not our home and we will have no natural disasters in eternity if we believe.
A message that sin is alive and He doesn’t like it
A message to worship Him even if we don’t have explanations for these type of events
A message of struggle and reminding us that there sometimes is suffering before the joy of resurrection.
A message of chaos still existing because Jesus has not returned yet. He wants to see more people come to salvation and sometimes disasters brings those people to believing.
Finally a message of how we need to pray and take action. Support and encourage those living in the mess of the storm.

 

I 💕mornings like this ~ a cup of steam, the purr of a little round furry tummy, the scent of spring in the air, and a blanket of fog. To me the fog is beautiful – yet sometimes in our lives the “fog” makes it hard to know where we should take our next step. When we shift our focus to Our Heavenly Dad – it becomes so much easier to navigate the fog. He never lets go of our hand even in the fog. 🍁

I was thinking about all the moments of life that blended to this very moment. Some may wish to erase their moments, but I with all my core believe that all of those moments shaped me to who I am today and are needed to have me at this place in my journey. I’ve never been one to spend my life people pleasing or worrying about what this person will think or that. Nor have I been the kind of person to say I’ll give up my convictions or people in my life or whatever just because someone doesn’t like it. A long time friend of mine once told me your partner and your friends are blessed if you love them because you are loyal and will fight to the death – and that is so true. So take all of that, put it in a bowl, mix it up with moments and wala! you have me.

So while I may not have people pleased – at times I have chosen to love myself or someone else more than I have my Heavenly Father. See I honestly believe he doesn’t give us commandment, or “rules” or scriptures to say if you don’t live up to these you are going to Hell. I don’t think it is has been a catch 22 system or a gotcha, because he knows that NONE of us can live up to all the rules and commandments. I recently watched a good video that asked – have you ever lied (EVER), have you ever had a lustful thought, have you ever stolen (even a cookie or something as a kid) – all participants answered yes. So then ALL are lying, adulterous, thieves who are sinners. God sent his son because he knew that was the only way to fix our separation from him. So while I may not be a people pleaser – I haven’t always chose God over everything else. I am a very strong willed child of God so I know this journey. When I just stop and say Heavenly Dad – my focus is on you. Like the fog, when I put my focus, give my all, trust my heart more to an individual than I do MY God who never leaves me – I’m setting myself up for a world of hurt. It sounds so simple and it really is – but the one thing that isn’t is letting go of the stubborn streak. I recently had a conversation with Pastor Dodd about some issues and this is some of the message he wrote back “Sin is sin. We are to work out our salvation. That doesn’t mean that we are to do good works to receive salvation. It simply means the Christian life, living in the will of God, Is a process! Regardless of what sins or strongholds have a believer in bondage, they are to seek God’s power to set them free! And that’s a lifelong journey!”

Isn’t that beautiful. It is a lifelong process. My favorite saying is that the Christian life is a “marathon not a sprint” – it is a journey. Your stronghold maybe people pleasing, self protection, fear, anxiety, drugs, little white lies, unforgiveness – whatever it is….mine maybe not always placing God first. God says forgive – it doesn’t matter if I “feel” like it or not – I am commanded to do it. God says love your neighbor – even if I am not thrilled about it – again commanded to do it. God says you do not know their journey – do not judge them – I am commanded not to judge. It makes life pretty simple – not always a joy ride, but I’m finding it so much easier than I could have ever imagined. So I enjoy mornings like this – the beautiful fog blanketing everything, the birds singing (the cranes are arriving by the way) and the little details of life unfold.

One who has been touched by grace will no longer look on those who stray as “those evil people” or “those poor people who need our help.” Nor must we search for signs of “loveworthiness.” Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are.

I remember my Grandmother smiling and saying – it doesn’t bother you what other people think does it. She said this in a positive manner as she too knew who she was in Christ and was not uprooted by the views, opinions or thoughts of others. I have tried hard to be rooted like that. Not saying I always did or said the right thing but at the end of the day I am the only one that can look in my mirror – not you. Nor can I look in your mirror and be ok with it.

A great devotional that I believe whole-heartedly in. If you are always watching out for what others say about you or tell others – you will always live an unauthentic life in my opinion. The one thing I know God ALWAYS sees both my heart/intentions and actions. That is all that matters – not what others think they know.

I wonder what they think of me? How did I do? 

It’s a subtle thought  – but a dangerous one.

How did “I” do? How did “I” appear? 

Whether you are bringing a dish to a sick neighbor in need, listening to someone that needs a friend, or spending your time with people in need -there’s one important question to ask yourself:

Am I doing it because of what other’s think or how I appear or unto God?

I can tell if I’m doing it onto them if I:

expect accolades.
look at results.
decide that I did a good job according to how people react.
need feedback (that I’m doing the “good” thing or “proper”.
gain worth based on how I did.

 

I can also tell if I am doing it unto God if I:

am at peace no matter how things look (to others).
am thankful.
understand that all good things from him.
get my worth from Christ’s acceptance of me.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)

Pride masks itself as a need – to know, to want recognition, to appear a certain way, to have all the answers, to be loved by everyone, to be seen in good light. Humility, on the other hand, let’s all things go to God and understands that anything good, worthy, true, noble and of good report is the working of God anyway. He created it all from the start. He gave it. Humility is meeting with someone who is hurting regardless of what it may look like, humility is being a servant, not asking for approval from anyone other than God.

A humble person is not “made” or destroyed by results, or even by God’s good gifts. They love the giver of the gifts more than the blessings of the gifts.

Where do you fall?

Let me assure you, you can get right back up again. Ask God to help you remember His faithfulness, how far He has brought you, what He is doing and how He is helping you. Acknowledge both His goodness and your need for Him. Thank Him for His faithfulness. Thank Him that He is the one doing and seeing everything through. Lean on Him in your time of need. He is there for you. He is restoring you. Do not base your life on what “others” think – frankly it is non of your business.

I was recently in a discussion about why would a God that is good allow bad things to happen? This is an indepth discussion however I was relating the answer to a normal relationship. I was thinking about without the risk of getting hurt and being vulnerable one never will know the true depths of love. You cannot love deeply without risking much. Safety in never being hurt or risking hurt in the opportunity to find deep love.

Here’s the thing, you can’t have both. If you choose to have the heart, you’ll have to have the pain. But you also get the joy. The joy of loving and the joy of… being loved.

You can choose thick skin and protect yourself from the pain, you can be afraid and never love, you can isolate yourself and never have a committed partnership, but you’ll also be protecting yourself from giving and receiving the right kind of love.

So, is there anything we can do? Is there a right choice? I believe there is.

Choose the risk.

And let God do the protecting…

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-11‬

I have been praying about a covenant relationship – 1 in a personal relationship and 2 – in a church relationship. Love this article!!

Having a covenant relationship with our church teaches us how to have a marriage relationship, how to show up at our job, how to be there for friends – it isn’t about the fun/good times – it is showing up when things are hurtful, you don’t want to and it is hard.

The Most Important Time to Go to Church

The most important time to be at church is when you don’t feel like it.

I’ve talked with three Christians about this recently—two struggling with depression, and a third who just went through a tough break-up—who’ve stopped gathering with God’s people during a difficult season. Whether for weeks or months, all three have decided to stop going to church.

One said it would be unsatisfying, that there just isn’t a sense of connection. Another said it would be awkward, because they don’t want to see their ex. The last said it would be unhelpful, because they have no desire to be there anymore.

I’m not here to minimize their burdens or condemn them for feeling the way they do. I’m not writing to them or about them. I’m just writing to every Christian who feels the way they’re feeling, who feels (as I have before) like gathering with God’s people will be unsatisfying, unhelpful, or just plain awkward.

I’m writing to say something I said to all three of my friends at some point in our conversations: The most important time to be at church is when you don’t feel like it.

Far More Than a Place

Yes, I know the church is a people, not a place. The church is a body, not a building. The church is something Christians are, not just somewhere Christians go. Yes, I also know the church is a family that should meet and study and eat and fellowship and pray and serve throughout the week, not just on Sunday. I know these things, and if you’ve walked with God for a while, you do too.

But I also know the church is marked, known, and enlivened by its regular, rhythmic, ordered gatherings (Heb. 10:24–25). A body that’s never together is more like a prosthetics warehouse, and a family that never has family dinners or outings or reunions won’t be a healthy family, if any family at all.

Covenants are made for the hard times, not the good times.

Sure, you could listen to some praise music and an online sermon, but there won’t be any personalized one-anothering, there won’t be any face-to-face fellowship, and there won’t be any bread and wine. Sure, you could read the Bible and pray on your own, but you won’t hear the studied voice of your own shepherd teaching and comforting and correcting you. Yes, you could just attend another church for a while because yours has grown unsatisfying, but that’s not treating your church like much of a covenant community.

Covenants are made for the hard times, not the good times. In the good times, we don’t need covenants, because we can get by and stick together on feelings alone. But covenant communities hold us up when we’re faltering and pick us up when we’ve fallen. They encourage us when we’re weary and wake us when we’re slumbering. They draw us out of ourselves and call us to our commitments and responsibilities. They invite us back to the garden of Christian community,  where we grow.

It’s Not About You

I get it. The worship team didn’t pull their song selections from your Spotify playlist; the pastor didn’t have the time and resources to craft a mesmerizing sermon with a team of presidential speechwriters; the membership may not have the perfect combination of older saints to mentor you, younger saints to energize you, mature saints to counsel you, hospitable saints to host you, and outgoing saints to pursue you.

But I know another thing: If your church believes the Bible and preaches the gospel and practices the ordinances and serves one another, then your church has saints, and those saints are your brothers and sisters, your fathers and mothers, your weary fellow pilgrims walking the same wilderness you are—away from Egypt, surrounded by pillars of cloud and fire, with eyes set on the promised land.

Which is to say, this isn’t really about you.

And those people you wish would pursue you and care for you and reach out to you need you to do the same (Gal. 6:9–10). That pastor you wish were a better preacher is probably praying this morning that you’d be a good listener (Mark 4:3–8, 14–20; James 1:22–25). Those people whose spiritual gifts you desperately need also desperately need your spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:15–16). Those people whose fellowship you find dissatisfying or unhelpful or just plain awkward don’t need your criticism but your gospel partnership (Phil. 4:2–3).

And you can’t do any of these things if you’re not present.

Vital Means of Grace

At all times and in all places, the gathering of the saints is a means of grace established by God for edifying his people. Christians gather to worship not because it might be helpful if all the stars align, or if our leaders plan the service just right, or if everyone smiles at us with the perfect degree of sincerity and handles the small talk seamlessly and engages us with just the right depth of conversation that’s neither too personal nor too shallow.

We gather because the God we’re worshiping has instituted our gathering as a main way he matures and strengthens and comforts us. It’s not just when the songs or prayers or sermons or Sunday school classes touch our souls right where we need to be touched. We meet because God builds up his people through our meeting every time, in every place, without fail, no matter how we feel. Like rain in the fields, it’s how our gatherings work.

Ask for Grace. Then Go.

So I know you may not feel like it on Sunday morning. You may not feel like it for a while. But I’m asking you to trust God, ask for grace, and go.

Go, because the church gathers every Sunday to remember the death of Jesus for our sins and the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and that’s precisely what we all need to remember and celebrate, regardless of what else is going on in our lives.

Go, because the stone trapping you in the cave of depression can be rolled away in a night, and once God does it, no Roman soldier or Jewish priest can stop him. Go, because you’re gathering to anticipate a greater marriage than the one you hoped would happen later this year. Go, not because your trials aren’t real, but because that tabled bread and wine represents the crucifixion of the worst sins you could ever commit and the worst realities you’ve ever experienced.

Go, and in your going, grow. Go, and in your going, serve. Go, and in your going, let God pick up the pieces of your heart and stitch together the kind of mosaic that only gets fully crafted when saints stay committed to God’s long-term building project, when they speak the truth to one another in love (Eph. 4:15–16).

The most important time to be at church is when you don’t feel like it. So please, brothers and sisters: Go.

“Come to Me.”

He is able to carry your hurting relationships square on His shoulders. He can handle your fears and your failures. He can carry your sin-struggles and your shame. He alone can carry the weight of it all, all the way up Calvary’s hill. And at the foot of the cross, He can lay it down on your behalf. In exchange for those heavy burdens, He offers His light yoke. That’s what He gives us when we give it all to Him.

“Come. Come to Me. Bring it all to Me, and I will give you rest.”   

I love the saying below. My former Pastor said everyone will sin – you shouldn’t be surprised by it or let it make decisions for your future. We all will sin – what we learn from it and do after is the real testimony. It bothers me that people seem just shocked that there are “sinners” in church or that you – or I or someone struggles with XYZ. We all struggle with something – why not be real about it. Authentic and intention. Just because we are Christians does not mean we will not fall down or sin, it does not mean life will be easy – in fact it maybe even more difficult – but it does mean we know the ending of the story, we can if we want it be eternally saved – we can know who holds tomorrow. That’s pretty awesome!

“Christians are not immune to sin of any kind. I’m not sure why we’re surprised when a Christian confesses that they’re struggling with something. It’s time to stop acting like Christian equals a walk in the park. Let’s get real and start seeking true healing.”

Interestingly funny…

I’ve been listening to a study that is a mix of – do you know who you are and why are you the way you are? People like to use the “excuse” it is just the way I am. I always shake my head at that one. We are the actions, words and re-actions we choose to be. There is no one that cannot change if they desire to – the key is “desire”. We can say we want to be a better partner, a better neighbor and a better believer – but it takes investment, commitment and focus. It is very easy to say it in words – much hard to actually apply it in action. My words this year are love and trust. And I have added intention.

You see stuff all the time proclaiming that success equals money and material possessions: The new truck, a bigger house, how many vacations, and more.

While these things might be nice, they’ll never fill your “why”. All these things are like buying a New York City penthouse apartment only to find the the main view is a brick wall of the next building that is bigger and better. I

The other thing is to not listen to what others say. I’m not recommending turning a deaf ear to wise counsel. I’m saying not to let someone talk you into or out of a life that you want. Some people will say play it safe while the other few will encourage you to jump out of an airplane without a parachute. At the end of the day the life “you’ want is up to you. Who you choose to spend it with, what journey you take, your words and actions – God is in control but he does let you drive the car.

So, what should your “why” include? In living with intention.

  1. Service
    When doing is for the benefit of something or someone else, it fulfills you. This is important in your partnership relationship. It is also important in other relationships – church family, friendships, other family, etc.
  2. Strength
    Your why should make you stronger. Most people look for a why that will make their lives easier, but your why should be with intention, commitment and focus. Easy is nice for a while, but never fulfills. Laying on the couch may seem nice for a lazy Saturday afternoon, but a life of it will kill you. Choosing to live your life to please someone else is just like laying on that couch – you can do it for awhile but if you do it forever you have just given up living your life authentically.
  3. Real Value
    Real value doesn’t come from money. If a man can give it to you, he can take it away. Make your why be about doing something that makes your heart fill with passion, with love, with excitement as well as joy and roots. No one can give these to you and no one can take them away. It’s all about who you are. When you live with intention your partnership relationship, your friendships and other relationships have meaning.
  4. Live for a higher purpose
    In the words of Save the Cowboy’s saddle builder, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.” Something magical happens when you give your life to God. Worldly things don’t seem as important and you are able to love others at a level never thought possible. Not only that, but for the first time, you’ll realize that there is someone else that loves you more than you could even fathom. And on top of it all, He wants to adopt you and make you one of his children…and the inheritance? Well, it’s perfect and forever. When He is the heart of your “why”, everything starts to make sense and come together. The world doesn’t want you happy and fulfilled, but He does.

Are you living life with intention? Are you sharing a life and living with your partner in intention? Are you examining your other relationships to see if you are living with authentic intention or fake people pleasing. Life is precious – live it with love and intention.

HUG THOSE PAWS TODAY!

I am so grateful every day for their purrs, their love, their funny little expressions and characteristics….their independence, their in the moment ability blended with their unconditional love. We are only given moments. I see some spoiling occurring today 🙂 Happy National Pet Day – love on those paws today! 💕🐾

It has been an interesting last few weeks. Between my father’s heart attack, relationship discussion, and then I had the fortune of coming down with something the following week. I hadn’t been that ill since I lived in DC. However all of it was moment by moment and I can say that even though I’m more of a beach mermaid, I truly have enjoyed winter this year far more than I have in many years in different ways.

I had just wanted a relaxing day Saturday, having marked it off for fur-baby play only and I ended up getting a little more than bargained for. Long story short of laying in the snow and ending up with a mysterious new white house guest….it lead to so much more. When we get out of the way and let God work miracles through us it blesses us and blesses others.

I thought my new little house guest Nala was going to be on her way home yesterday, however the roads were too bad with more snow and dangerous driving conditions on way. She has an owner, a lady going through an abusive divorce and three little ones who miss her terribly. Unfortunately her companion Leo has yet to be found. The kids ask for videos and to facetime Nala in the evening and their faces light with joy.

I was thinking of the ways of God yesterday – because this truly was a God moment – no other way around it. This cat was not used to the outdoors, was cold, scared and extremely hungry. My first reaction was what if someone found one of the fur-paws I love – I would want them to treat them in the best fashion possible like one of their own. I would do no less.

I thought of us and others. How do we treat others. How do we treat someone that has sinned, made mistakes, been turned out in the cold by angry friends or family? How do we treat the homeless, the neighbor we know may be struggling, our partner who needs our support for no other reason than they ask for it or maybe they don’t but we have it to give. Do we give it? Do we offer love? Or do we leave them out in the cold like a stray cat – fend for yourself, I don’t have time, you’re an inconvenience on my time and home? Perhaps it isn’t even a stranger or acquaintance. Do we make time for those we say we love? Are we quick to forgive? Do we offer grace? Are we there when needed and there just in the moments in between? I’d rather go to the gym today but know my neighbor needs someone to talk to, I’d rather go golfing or shopping than take the time to do something my partner wants to do, I’ll invite them for dinner when it works more into my schedule. Is that the life Christ called me to live?

Come to find out one of the people who saw my post is from First Baptist. I don’t know her but she knows I go to early service and she is actually the one who contacted the owner of the cat. I smiled about it really is just one small world with lots of little webs. I enjoy the connections of people.

I was talking to someone about how in ways my personality is different from my sister and parents – just in superficial ways – such as liking to travel, fashion, being a vegetarian and having no desire to kill anything even a cricket. I smiled at that knowing I was raised differently but also knowing I was fully supported to become exactly who I was to be. The person I was talking with said – You know God created you in your way for His purpose to be exactly who he needed you to be. There is a reason your heart is the way it is – it gives you the capacity to love and forgive where others may struggle more. It allows you to lay in the snow to find a scared cat and reunite it, through God’s ability, with a family who misses it. It allows you to not walk away from people that have hurt you and be open to new people without judgement.

I thought of those things. How we each have our own journey, colors, and moments that shape us…yet at the end of the day our decisions and actions are 100% ours – no one elses. I couldn’t be more grateful for the person I am today…and I am really excited to see each day unfold of God’s canvas for me. A heart that seeks God with love and joy, passion and journey of sharing life with a partner, laughter and newness of family and friends and forever the unconditional love of purrs and paws.

There is a God moment lesson in each day if we listen and get out of the way so God can use us in it.

I’ve been listening to a series on Uncomfortable. I have really enjoyed it on embracing the uncomfortable and how to be a better believer through those moments.

The church wasn’t created to make us “comfortable”. Relationships weren’t made for that either. A committed relationship is created to round off the un-Christ like edges and make us more Christ-like, giving, unselfish, etc. We are to act in kindness to those around us. We are to go out of our way to help someone – even when it places an imposition on us. I’ve had experiences even this week….smiling it seems like God brings us experiences daily if we pay attention.

Good questions to ask. Do I make allowances for others faults? Do I forgive quickly? Do I embrace uncomfortable situation or people who are not like me or do I avoid them? Do I engage in conversations with people that could be considered “uncomfortable” to me or do I only talk with those that make me comfortable?

I had the blessing to have an experience to meet new people this week through 4 paws that lead to all sorts of moments. God works in ways that are so mysterious and sometimes funny to me. I stop and go really Heavenly Dad? I’ve also had the experience this week that someone I loved thought the worst of me. There is nothing I can do with that except give it to God. It hurts, but what others think of me I cannot change. A friend checked in on me last night wanting to know if I was ok. She reminded me to guard my heart and that I have a special love to give. Sometimes there are those who don’t want love, to be loved or to give love back. I cannot change that either…but I can pray that the Holy Spirit continues to grow and shape me to be the best believer, partner, daughter, sister, friend, cat mom and more that I can be.

When you invest your love, you invest your life.

What kind of person do you want to be?  I read this article today on “nice” vs “kind”. What’s your thoughts…? People pleasing vs kindness. Good thoughts.

The difference lies in our motivation.
“The nice person is externally motivated. He’s driven by the need for other people’s approval and validation; he craves acceptance and is fearful of rejection,” “The kind person is internally motivated. She has good self-esteem and isn’t looking for approval. She’s less concerned about what others might think of her and more interested in doing the right thing. Her compassion comes from an overflowing of her positive self-regard and not from the need to please.”
The nice person can’t be authentic because he’s too preoccupied with being a people-pleaser. He has a hard time making genuine connections and decisions and while his behavior might be outwardly positive, he can start to feel disappointment and resentful sometimes blaming that feeling on those he is closest to or is easiest to lash out at.

My Grandmother loved flowers on Valentine’s Day. I still smile at the one year she insisted that I not spend money on flowers. Confused, but decided if that’s what you really want…as I ended up going to the store to get flowers…as she asked that year. “where are my flowers”.

Women love the little details of life. Sometimes I think it is the flowers, but more than that is is the knowing that what you like means something to someone, that you mean something to someone. Giving someone something you like is pretty easy, but knowing them intimately enough to know their likes, their desires, what they enjoy and doing that is a sign of love and kindness. That one moment taught me that showing love is important. Words are wonderful and they need to be said and heard, but actions have great importance.

So every year on Valentine’s Day my Grandmother received flowers. My favorite are red roses. I have a friend who loves yellow ones. Grandma’s was carnations sprinkled with glitter with a few roses and daisies mixed in between. Now that Grandma has the rose garden of Heaven I try to keep the tradition and pick someone who may not get roses this year – perhaps they are single waiting for God’s match for them, perhaps they are widowed or just going through a season where flowers would bring them joy.

It is amazing what some brightly colored blooming buds can do to uplift one’s heart as well as decorate the day’s canvas. Happy Valentine’s Day Grandma and to all of you special souls out there. May your day be filled with Love as Love is in the Air – not just this day, but every day.

Each come with a price tag.
But don’t we all?

If we’re really honest with ourselves, we will realize that this one very important truth is actually reflected in how we live our lives. It may be a literal price tag, like the prostitute’s cost of a one-night stand- but more significant, it may be an emotional price tag. Either way, it is a price tag that we each placed on ourselves based on what we believe we deserve.

No matter how we look at it, there is no getting around the fact that the giving of ourselves will ALWAYS come at a cost. Whenever we choose to engage in any kind of relationship with another human being, there is always some sort of a cost involved. It will cost us our heart, our spirit, our bodies, and our minds. It will cost our emotions, our time, our commitment, and our energy.
We always come with a price tag, and we will value ourselves with the price tag that we believe we deserve.
But even more sobering, we will be purchased at the price that we place on ourselves.
If you believe you’re worth a measly $50 dollars–or an ambiguous relationship that revolves only around sex— that is exactly what you will get.

The most difficult truth is that there are some woman who set their price tag so low- because they believe that is the price of love.
But if you’re easy to purchase, you’ll also be easy to replace.

My heart goes out to every woman who has ever settled and let her price down. For every woman who has ever allowed her heart up to be wounded, broken, and bruised at the hands of someone who didn’t see the value that she truly possessed. Daughter of God, no matter who you are or what you’ve been through – you are worth so much more than what you believe you deserve. You have been purchased by a God who saw that you were worth far more than you ever could have imagined, and so He bought you at a high cost just to prove it. You were purchased by the blood of Jesus- a God who gave His very Son so that you could have your value, your security, and your worth. So that you could hold your head up high. So that you could believe that you are worth magnificent, and you are worth remarkable.

It’s time for this generation of women to rise up and claim the price by which we’ve been purchased (1 Corn 7:23). It’s time to recognize that our price has been set high, and that we are worth someone who sees the significant worth that was given to us by the God who makes things valuable. It’s time to say no to lies that degrade our bodies, invalidate our emotions, and muffle our voices- making us feel small and insignificant.
Because what we believe about ourselves will always determine how we live.

We all come with a price tag. It’s time to start believing that we are worth so much more.

I love this – It is not great faith we need. It is small faith like a mustard see and a great God!

My devotional today was on Brave Love. Living love to the fullest, love that drives out fear, that you can serve both – fear or love, that you can live love or you can just talk about it. Love is a choice and love is action. Isn’t it amazing to live Brave Love!

God is continually showing us what brave love looks like. Brave love starts with me, and it starts with you. Brave love means being honest and authentic. It’s allowing ourselves to be whole people with thoughts and feelings and moods. Brave love is messy and complicated, but it also brings peace and creates space for intimacy in our relationship. Brave love stands its ground, brave love fights with grace and authenticity, brave love doesn’t run it remains firm.
We have all been fearfully and wonderfully made, known and loved by God to love bravely. Are you loving bravely today in both word and action or just sitting on the luke warm sidelines talking about it?

I just finished watching this documentary, if that is what one calls it. I would love to know thoughts on it from others. You can rent it on-line or if you are an Amazon prime member you can watch it for free. I

I thought about the video as it was recommended by a friend. I am not sure I would recommend it to those who are searching or those who are new to their faith, but there are parts of the video that are good. I disagree with it on the way it has twisted the doctrine of healing and speaking faith. I think the video has twisted that as well as the doctrine of wealth. Agree a pastor shouldn’t beg for money, but finances are a different topic.

I do believe in and find this from the video as good doctrine:

Salvation = Justification by Christ alone. By grace you have been saved through faith.
Faith = salvation + works (sanctified and regenerated heart – fruit is good works as a result of being saved)
(Catholic) Rome – Salvation = Faith + Works (work based system)

The law says – do this (what did Jesus do – now you need to do the same to be saved)
The gospel of God’s word says – this is done  (what has Jesus done – the son of God died for our sins, rose again and will come again – now you need to have faith and believe)

I did like that is asked and examined the following:

What does it mean to be good?
How are you saved?
Does it mean to be perfect or never go against God’s law?
Are we judged on action of being a good person or not good person?
Is that how we go to Heaven or Hell?
Are we condemned if we fail or sin?
Which do you choose pride or despair? Pride if I’m good enough or despair if I’m not good enough?
Do you go to Heaven because you are a good and Hell because you are not good?  Wouldn’t we all go to Hell then?
Are you better than someone else because you don’t sin the same way or as much as they do?
How exactly are we saved?
How exactly do we know we are going to Heaven or Hell?
Did Jesus take our place for our sins?
Is there only one way to Heaven? What is it?
Is salvation based on what you do or what Christ has done through Jesus Christ?

I know my answers to all of these questions and why. Do you?

One of my favorite prayer poem’s by Ruth Graham – Franklin’s wife before she ever met Franklin. It is a beautiful reminder that giving your heart to a man who cherishes it, loves it and takes care of it …a man who loves God and loves you…is committed to God and committed to you…Known.

“Dear God, I prayed, all unafraid
(as we’re inclined to do),
I do not need a handsome man
but let him be like You;
I do not need one big and strong
nor yet so very tall,
nor need he be some genius,
or wealthy, Lord, at all;
but let his head be high, dear God,
and let his eye be clear,
his shoulders straight, whate’er his state,
whate’er his earthly sphere;
and let his face have character,
a ruggedness if soul,
and let his whole life show, dear God,
a singleness of goal;
then when he comes
(as he will come)
with quiet eyes aglow,
I’ll understand that he’s the man
I prayed for long ago.”

― Ruth Bell Graham

Knowing my days are numbered, am I ready to leave this earth at any moment? What would you do if you knew how many days you had left?

Would you be more generous with your gifts and resources? Would you be more willing to release past hurts and to make peace with someone you love? Would you then be able to love, embrace and accept yourself and who you love as they are?

Knowing my days are numbered, accepting this and living life to the fullest could be the most reasonable thing to do. Knowing my life is purposeful and that I am here for a reason — that I am God-scent. One of my God-given gifts is the capacity to love. I believe everyone matters and everyone has a purpose. I enjoy listening, encouraging, motivating, but most of all hearing people’s stories. I believe I was created for a partnership relationship by God.
Knowing your days are numbered — is being right and trying to prove it, holding a grudge against someone, or waiting for the “perfect time or space” more important than being in the relationship with the person you love? Would it matter anymore? Would it matter what other people thought or said? Asking for God’s guidance can help us come to terms with a difficult situation and find direction. We can end a conflict by agreeing to disagree and letting bygones be bygones, so that we can live life to the fullest with passion and enjoy whatever time we have left with one another.

Knowing our days are numbered, what’s most important is living those days well and not worrying about how we will be remembered. What other people think really is none of your business. Living our life guided by love, gratitude, intention and kindness; seeing the beauty in others, and knowing each person belongs, and has a purpose, is really all that matters.
If you live your life touching the hearts of others, through love and God, that’s how you will be remembered. I know that is exactly how I want to be known.

BIRTHDAY’S ARE GOD’S BLESSINGS! JOYFUL BIRTHDAY WISHES!

As a little girl I used to love to have coffee with Grandpa. He would go nightly to the local cafe, the only cafe, to meet with his friends and just do what guys do. Not every night, however often, I would accompany him ordering my usual…. one cup coffee black, an order of french fries and a lot of ketchup. Our neighbor, Rex, who met us there, every time I reached for the ketchup bottle, “You know that will stunt your growth.” As I laughed and said “will not, but that smoking will yours.” He lived to a nice older age and i’m 5’4 …so guess we each gave a bit smiling. I would sit, sharing my fries and listening to stories, watching the bobble headed birds who dipped up and down in the small square window. When my mind would wander and I couldn’t sit still any more, as I still seem to do, I would explore the old hotel or sit on the spinning stools and spin until I was joyfully green with dizziness. No one yelled at kids then for being kids. Those stools were made for spinning. I still take a spin every now and then for old times sake. No one would ever accuse me of being sentimental…smiling. When enough “big fish” stories had been exchanged for the night, everyone would return to their homes…in a small community where everyone knew your name, as a kid knew you were into mischief before you even knew you were in it, and where doors were left unlocked and someone always had a pot of coffee on for you to stop. Happy 106th birthday Grandpa. Enjoy that cup of coffee with that slice of heaven made pie.

Once upon a time there was a little boy, who liked dogs, never was good at keeping track of time, and liked to explore nature. Not much has changed except later in life his love for dogs turned into cats, one very special cat, I may add. A boy who talked to rabbits, shot birds for cats, found shelter under a forest tree and was usually getting himself into something, but he always managed to get himself out until the next adventure awaited. Like kids do, life is pretty carefree, until the moment that it isn’t. We all have defining moments, yet the loss of a Father, etches one of the deepest. And the little boy, the one that was going to have a birthday sky cake with candles from the night stars, suddenly found his world had changed. Fast forward, that little boy, now again to soon celebrate a birthday and a day still etched of a Father and Son…but maybe time and journey has softened or explained, perhaps though a Heavenly Father, that defining moment is blended and more peaceful. I too wonder what stories you are telling in Heaven on this day and looking down with love on soon to be birthday wishes. All grains of sand are numbered. For some it is growing older to the age of 100, and for others it is the journey of 56. Yet it isn’t the time that so much matters, it is what we do with it. It is how we loved, that we lived with intention and great passion, it is taking chances and showing up – it is the moments that make it amazing. It is the flow of the water, the remembering of those we love and the little sticks of black jack gum shared along the way.

Pray and Let God Worry
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
—Matthew 6:27
We have a little bird feeder in our backyard. I keep it filled with birdseed, and the birds know breakfast will be there. They cruise in and eat the seed, or they get the seeds off the ground or the vegetation.
Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount in the region of Galilee, where all around Him were birds chirping away and beautiful wildflowers growing. He drew on that backdrop to make a point: “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:26–27).
In other words, look at what is before your eyes. Have you ever seen a stressed-out bird? Birds wake up every morning and sing away. They’re simply happy. No bird has ever been promised eternal life. Yet they sing away, every day. Jesus wasn’t saying that birds sit by idly and wait for the food to come to them. They take action.
I like what Martin Luther said: “Pray and let God worry.” That is really the secret. Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
The next time you are gripped by fear and worry, the next time you start thinking, “What if this happens? What if that happens?” turn it into a prayer. Look to the Lord and let Him give you His peace.

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
unsuitable….

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing. ~ Mary Oliver

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean––
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and
down––
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

A relationship that is based on feelings will always fail. There is always the option to let go of hands when you are hurt or don’t get your way. A real relationship is based on choice, commitment and showing up even at the times we don’t feel like it and especially the times when we are most hurt.
What are you building your relationships on?

“I affirm that it’s only through Christ’s power at work in me that I can hope to love you in this way. I also humbly acknowledge that in my weak moments and my darkest days, I will fail in many ways to do all of these things. And when that happens, I promise to confess to the Lord and to you, to seek your forgiveness, and to do everything in my power to restore oneness.”

A relationship that is going to endure this lifetime should include these four things:

  • A promise to love someone, both now and in the future, regardless of circumstances. This shows commitment.
  • An affirmation that Jesus’ power is the only way to actually be able to love someone in that way. This shows reliance on God.
  • An acknowledgment that you will not perfectly live out every moment of your relationship. This shows humility.
  • A commitment to pursue oneness even when promises to love are broken by sin. This shows a willingness to forgive and reconcile.

This is what the word says we need in a relationship:

When you build a relationship the world’s way, here’s what you care about, starting with what you believe is the most important:

  1. Are they attractive? (Physical)
  2. Do I feel good when I’m around them? (Emotional)
  3. Do they have the personality that I want? (Psychological)
  4. Do they fit what I want to do all the time? (Social)

Wisdom’s Way to Build a Relationship

No surprise, the wise way to build a relationship is pretty much the opposite of the world model. A great relationship that lasts is built on what really matters. Here’s what you should care about, starting with the most important.

  1. Spiritual : Is the other person a Christian? Are they following and trying to obey Jesus? Do they have an abiding relationship with Christ? The spiritual foundation has to be there first. If this isn’t there, nothing else matters. This should be the first thing that you look for when learning more about someone or spending time with them. If their relationship with Jesus isn’t obviously the most important thing about them, move on, or hold off until it is.
  2. Social : Are they authentic and kind in their relationships with others? Are they connected in community? Are they servant-hearted? Notice how they handle relationships, especially with people who can’t do anything to help them. Are they loyal, supportive, loving to friends and family? How they treat other people is how they will treat you.
  3. Psychological: Do they know who they are, and are they comfortable in their own skin? Are they being their true self? Do you both enjoy being together? Getting to know each other in a group setting can be great way to see if there’s a personality fit, and see if the other person is the same when they are around others as they are around you. Don’t obsess over “compatibility”, but do pay attention to how you are able to connect and interact when the two of you are with friends and family.
  4. Emotional: Are they emotionally stable, healthy, and ready for a relationship? Do emotions have the proper place in the relationship? You should have positive feelings toward each other, but you should see them for what they are (we all have weaknesses) – something that accompanies the relationship, but doesn’t define it. Don’t let your emotions dictate the relationship. A relationship is based on getting to know one another leading to a commitment. A relationship is a choice.
  5. Physical: Are you attracted to the outside based on what’s inside? Physical attraction matters, but less than you think. Having someone be your physical “type” is great, but it definitely shouldn’t be the main thing you base the relationship on. And as far as getting physical goes, don’t go too far. Save it for commitment, and look to set an example by how you pursue each other in purity and respect. This is especially important for men. Treat the woman you want to be with like a treasure guarding her physical gift to you in a commitment as precious.

If you are a Christian you have been given everything that you need to live a godly life. And that includes building a healthy relationship that lasts. Build your relationship on God’s Word and God’s wisdom, and no matter what happens, it will stand the test of time.

What are you building your relationships on?

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:12).

Our church is fasting I believe from 6 p.m. tonight to 6 tomorrow. I knew I would be involved in birthday celebrations so I did my fasting from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 p.m. Thursday. I admit I did have a few libations but no food. I was out of town the Sunday they announced the fasting, however it really made me smile as a few weeks ago I was on a site that I use for praying and they were starting a daily email on fasting. God does work those weaving threads in mysterious ways.

It was good to fast. I haven’t done that in a long time. I’m hoping to incorporate it into more of my life on a consistent basis. So I’m on Lesson 8 of my fasting devotional. From one of the lessons:
“Let’s talk about choosing objectives in fasting. Somebody once said, “If you aim at nothing you can be pretty sure you will hit it.” We need to have an aim or an objective when we go into something like fasting. “

I thought how true this is…not just in fasting but in relationships, in projects and in life. One must have an objective or as I call it a focus. Without focus, we just float around without any roots or direction. This fast was good. I used to fast a long time ago. The one thing about my fasting devotional is that it helped me in knowing that a fast doesn’t have to be for days, it can be just an exclusion of food usually and not liquids such as coffee or water (not sure they encouraged vino but opps). Our church is fasting for God’s provision, guidance and blessing in our new church and all the journey that goes with it. It has been a work in progress and the building is the shell – the next journey will be a foundational one of the people and process.

I probably don’t and won’t fast exactly like you do or you like me. I sometimes think we put too much pressure on ourselves to do it “right” or be “perfect” and God just wants our hearts. When our hearts are in it…it is perfect in the sight of God. I’m so grateful for my Heavenly Daddy….pretty amazing.

Do you ever struggle? We are all human right? Today I am thinking of grace, love and forgiveness. When we rely on feelings we can say at times we aren’t or don’t want to do any of those things. Yet when we rely on God we are commanded to do them. It isn’t a request – we are commanded to forgive and to love. Pretty tough stuff sometimes in our earthly bodies, yet it must be extremely important if God calls it of us. Don’t you think? I read this today, ” always thankful for the good we see wrapped up in lives of imperfection. ” We are all imperfect…yet do we look with eyes of love in seeing the best or the worst in someone? Love is a choice.

I was dwelling on this reading today. “We need far more of the attitude displayed by the apostle Paul. He dealt with churches that had every kind of evil imaginable: sexual sin, infighting, laziness, self-indulgence, heretical teachers, you name it. Yet in all his letters he comes off as an encourager who notices the good.
Consider his words to the Romans:
“And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.” Romans 15:14
Really?
Didn’t he just warn them, “Do not be arrogant!”(11:18)
Didn’t he just tell the “strong” to lighten up on the “weak,” and the “weak” not to judge the “strong?” (chap. 14). Didn’t he have to admonish them, “Who are you to judge the servant of another?” (14:4) Didn’t he have to lecture them to “accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God?” (15:7)

Throughout his letters, Paul exercises the grace to call out someone’s good in Christ even in the face of their weaknesses.
For relationship, we need the eyes of Paul, always thankful for the good we see wrapped up in lives of imperfection.
Paul doesn’t allow any weakness to define the church at Rome; instead, he defines them by the grace of God. He chooses to see the goodness God squeezes out of their limitations: “I am convinced you are full of goodness.”

Christ’s death on the cross is the perfect example of love. Jesus came into the world He loved to give His life as a ransom for sin, yet few people loved Him in return. When we continue to love unresponsive, ungrateful people, we are following Christ’s example. This is possible because after we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, He pours His love into our hearts, enabling us to love others no matter how ugly they behave toward us.

These questions I am taking in today:

Can you, like Paul, learn to respect an imperfect partner who occasionally stumbles or gives way to pride? (I’m not talking about accepting physical or verbal abuse, dangerous addictive behavior, or the like.) Can you love an imperfect partner who gives in to a critical or negative spirit? Even after witnessing these weaknesses are you bold enough to say, “I am convinced you are full of goodness?”
Anybody could love a perfect partner, a perfect daughter or sister or friends. It’s no credit to you if your love is conditioned upon godly behavior. Christian community—calls us to love, accept and affirm the less than perfect, as we view everyone through the lens of grace—the same lens through which God views us.
Can you rise from prayer, knowing your partner, friends and family are still struggling with several weaknesses, yet put your trust in God confidently enough to state, “I am convinced you are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another?”
If so, you know that grace has visited your soul.
It comes down to this: what will be the song our partner, friends and family members hear us sing most often?
Will it be songs of God’s promise or songs of each other’s failings?
Paul looked at what God was doing over and above what those in his care were doing. When we look through those eyes—the eyes that see God’s provision, God’s empowerment and God’s grace—we can’t help but respond with hope, encouragement, and affirmation.

A LITTLE TUESDAY DANCING MUSIC ~ ENJOY!



HAPPY NATIONAL BUBBLE BATH DAY!

HAVE YOU LOVED WELL?

I was thinking of a conversation and how amazingly wonderful it is to share life with a partner. Except for our relationship with God, there is no one we are closer with than the person that holds our hand as we walk through the rivers and valleys of this life. God created us for Love. The question is ….Do YOU LOVE WELL…DO I LOVE WELL?

One day we will have a final exam when we go to be with Jesus. And you know what? I just wonder if the only thing He asks us is will be, “Did you love well?” Jesus reminded His disciples of the commandment to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Since this was a commandment, it makes me wonder if this will be the test. Now don’t get me wrong. If you are a believer, have received Jesus into your life, then the most important test was passed. He promises that you and I will be with Him one day:

If Jesus commanded us to love Him completely and in turn love others, we need to consider it as the most important thing that we do in our spiritual lives…from a place of loving God and receiving love from Him, we pour love out onto others. I want to be that kind of person. Do you?

The most significant way is to learn how to love others, particularly those who are not like us, who don’t like us, who may even be offended by us or offends us. God’s love, through Jesus is agape, supernatural love and we cannot drum it up, make it up or pretend to love. How do we love others? It comes from knowing the love of God. We are able to love with grace because we have known and experienced God’s grace without measure and undeserved. We can forgive because we have been forgiven. We can let go of score cards because God has erased ours. Love comes from a place of prayer…the place we meet with God and talk to Him and listen. It is the place where the Holy Spirit leads us into a deeper knowledge of who God is and why He sent His Son to forgive us and bridge the sin gap. It is the place where bitterness and anger melt as we allow the Holy Spirit to do a heart check up on us.

Love always wins. In our culture today we see love as a feeling but LOVE IS AN ACTION…in LOVING our partner, in inviting someone for a meal, in sharing the message of hope, sending a card or paying a visit to the elderly or visiting someone at the hospital. Love just isn’t showing up when it benefits us, or when it feels good, or when it is easy. Love is showing up when it is hard, when it hurts, when it is tough, when we would rather stay home but we show up for someone else. True love, love eternal, can only be accessed through the love of Christ. Once we have that – we can pour it out to others.

So today , I ask you this question: HAVE YOU LOVED WELL?

Love and Trust are pretty big things. How do you love when you’ve been hurt? How do you trust when you’ve been hidden away? Simply having knowledge of what characterizes a strong dating or marriage relationship does not actually equate to having one. Put another way, relationship information does not equal relationship transformation.

I smiled reading today – It’s a Heart thing. When someone doesn’t give you grace – it’s a heart thing – because they do not fully comprehend the amazing grace God has given them. When someone keeps score cards of past hurts against you it is because they have not fully embraced that God keeps no score card on them. It all comes down to a heart thing. Only after rooting ourselves in God’s perfect love will we be able to accept the highs and lows of human love. If you expect a perfect partner, parent, sibling or friend – you have a heart issue.

My favorite quote for the day ” a person who says he’ll meet you halfway is often a poor judge of distance.” That is the way with any relationship – when a person is only willing to do half or less than half – heart issue.

Another thing that is good for the heart is laughter. I hope this creates some in your soul and spirit. Take time to see what heart issues need action.