One Hundredth Time’s the Charm!

What is the definition of a type A personality? Telling myself that I’m not. Sure, maybe I try to control the situation occasionally. Things must occur on schedule. I push myself too hard and make myself anxious. If I am not doing something right, what’s the point?

Dang it, I’m more type A than I thought.

Every time God does something big despite my “help,” I swear I am going to get out of His way and let Him work next time. I make proclamations and vows of undying love. “No circumstance is too much for my God to handle!” “He loves me and I love Him!” “Look what He did in my life!”

Then the next day …….

How do I seem to forget that fast? Well, this past year I really have learned a lot. I am doing my best to remember it all. But the proclamations? I may have to tone it down. I am learning it is day by day, even minute by minute. My prayers have become “God, help me love You more each day.” “Use me to glorify You.” “I want Your will to be done.” One of the most important prayers has become “help me be patient while You work this out for my good and Your glory.”

Hard to believe, but this is my 100th post! Almost a year ago, I started this blog as a way to get writing experience and to talk about what God is teaching me. He has done so much, but now I know that I will never be as patient as I want. That is OK because through all the waiting, I have to trust. My faith in God grows a little each time He comes through for me. When times are uncertain, my friendship with God gets deeper. The more I trust, the closer He pulls me to Him. That is what God is really looking for. He doesn’t expect me to get everything right (or even most.) He wants to have a friendship with me that becomes my main focus. He implores me to keep my eyes on Him. When I have God in the right place, He is thrilled.

I am convinced that if I only learn one thing this year, it is to keep my relationship with God in the top spot in my life. Of course I have been told this all my life, but it has had to be something that sinks into my heart through experience. I had to really get it on my own. I had to learn that by taking my eyes off God, I start to sink. As soon as I lift my head up again and allow God to work, everything changes. My peace returns and God works everything out.

Have you learned that lesson? God wants to be your best friend, the One you turn to first. If the answer is no, ask Him to help you get there. He would love nothing more!

Linking with Faith Along the Way!

Call Me Old School

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At our last Bible study meeting, our leader had hand made cards for us. She put them together and wrote a note to each of us. What she said in mine makes me want to cry every time I read it.

Yes, I said every time. Her words are so sweet and encouraging and I keep reading them. While it’s true I could reread an email, it just isn’t the same. A piece of paper is something I can hold in my hands. There is a more genuine feel to it than any other form. And if I am down and want to read it months from now, I just pick it up. If I get tears on it, it won’t be the end of the world. I can carry it around and show it to people (which I have already done) easier on paper than an email that I have to scroll to find.

Besides, who doesn’t love to get mail that isn’t a bill?

Maybe growing up with a Grandma who wrote letters every day (even though she could barely see) is holding me back in another time. Maybe. But people loved getting them from her. Especially me, when I was away at college. Of course we could have picked up the phone. There is just something special in the written word. These words can be savored and when the memory of them fades, they can be read again. A special letter can be kept close to your heart.

Whether true or not, I feel a letter takes more thought and energy. Hand delivered or mailed, it requires a conscious effort that typing does not. It is never an afterthought. Sitting down with paper and pen and maybe stamp and address book is different than hitting “send” on a phone. Maybe it is because I write, but the physical act of writing a letter relieves stress. When I think of what to say and how good it will make the recipient feel, my day gets exponentially better. When I can brighten a day and lift a spirit, why wouldn’t I?

Over time I have gone through phases of writing notes to people. I would make it a habit and then life would get in the way. I think now how much happier the world would be if we each wrote a note once a week. We could bring joy and healing to a heart that needs it. We could leave a lasting imprint with words of truth.

New Year’s resolution, anyone?

Linking with Holley Gerth!

Follow You All of My Days

God, You created me perfectly. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. You put every body part in place and let them work together. You allow me to push myself but also made my body need rest. That need is a reminder of my dependence on You. The heart that beats in my chest ticks away the moments of my life, so I know not to waste them. My brain is wired a certain way that only You understand. My legs are strong and allow me to serve others. My feet are put on a path You ordained at the beginning of time. My arms hold my family close and give me a glimpse of the love You have for me. My hands can quietly hold another’s as I walk through storms of life with them. These hands can also wipe tears from my children’s eyes. The eyes You gave me help me see someone’s pain and look into their eyes to show I care. My mouth will smile when a friend needs reassurance and my ears will listen to their cries. My whole body was put here to serve You and praise You. Its purpose is to reflect Your love and show Your glory. May I do so all the days of my life.

Linking with The Saturday Soiree at Faith Along the Way.

Please Don’t Spread Hate to My Kids

Warning: a white girl is writing about race. Please don’t let that keep you from reading!

As I see what is happening in America, I can’t help feeling sick to my stomach. So much pain and division. I think back to my childhood, where I grew up in predominately white neighborhoods and schools. Knowing that has kept me out of discussions, because I have not experienced what others have. But I look at how I was raised. My parents didn’t discriminate and make nasty comments. My teachers didn’t either. I really can’t remember hearing spewed hatred, but sadly, not everyone can say that.

If you are going to be around my sweet girls as they grow, will you do me a favor? Will you speak love around them? Kids pick up on everything, and I want them to keep seeing others as the same as them. Their elementary school is much more diverse than mine were, and I love that. Right now they see people, not color. They see a playmate, not hate. They love, because they know all lives matter. We are doing our best to raise them to be a blessing to others as children today are the next generation. I know I want to make it better for them.

My girls will soon enough learn how hateful people can be, but I would rather it not be from someone they look up to. Someone they take cues from. If you keep a comment from coming out, you won’t spread your opinions to them. And you may just learn from their young hearts.

The best advice I have been given lately is to listen. For way too long I have assumed racism was getting better, that it was slowly going away. I am truly sorry for that, because my assumption has made me part of the problem. I will never truly understand what people are still going through, but I don’t want to ignore it. I need to hear and digest stories and not pretend it isn’t happening.

If you have an experience you are willing to share, please leave it in the comment section. I want to acknowledge your grief and be able to tell you you are loved. Your life matters. I would love to be able to start a dialogue, but please remember to keep it respectful.

Let’s make the world better by coming together and showing love.

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart.

Intentional Spending: Christmas Edition

Hard to believe we are in month six of intentional spending and that it is Christmas time! The idea has definitely snowballed and has seeped into our minds and hearts. We can’t wait to see what God does in us and through us.

At the moment we are selling our house. When praying about accepting a lower offer, my husband James told God we want to be able to continue to give. It was touching to hear him say. Now that we are giving more, we can’t imagine going back to the way we used to be.

Back in October, our family discussed giving Christmas away. We decided to take the money I put aside each month for Christmas presents and spend it on another family. We don’t need more, and I assured the girls that Santa and other relatives will get them presents. I hate that I was surprised they wanted to do it! We really don’t give kids enough credit.

A few weeks later, our local Christian radio station had the nonprofit company, Food for the Poor, on all day. They said if we give $200, it feeds a family for a year and gives them water for life. Funny, that was the amount I had saved. We gave our donation, and it felt really good! The relief was huge for me. Focusing on other people who have needs definitely keeps me grounded and grateful for what I have.

As I mentioned earlier, we are selling our house. The girls found many toys they don’t play with and most were donated. A few we sold, and we used the money to grant a Christmas wish locally. This morning we went to Chick-Fil-A and looked at the wishes, again with our local radio station, 104.7 The Fish. We picked a single mom with 2 kids and are going to give them gifts. When I told the show hosts, Kevin and Taylor, where the money is coming from, they wanted to talk to me about it. Y’all I was on the radio! It was awesome to have a conversation with them.

 

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I am beyond proud that my children are learning the value of helping other people and giving when the world says to spend the money on themselves. They are learning the joy of giving and I pray it will stick with them when they are grown.

Please know that if you start giving a little more at a time, it will get easier. I don’t care what your personality is or what your life is like: giving will change your perspective and make you a more caring person. And it is contagious. When you start, others will join in. People that you assumed would think you are crazy will come around or surprise you by being on board. Don’t let friends’ and family’s opinions deter you from being the generous person you were created to be.

Be a trendsetter and start today. Start by giving someone else a Merry Christmas and see how good that makes you feel. I promise, you will be hooked!

 

 

Linking with the Saturday Soiree at Faith Along the Way.

I Expect God to Act

Not gonna lie, yesterday was a brutal start to the week. Being positive was not what I wanted-I wanted to whine and fume and yell. Instead I looked up the verse of the day on YouVersion. It was from Psalm 42, so I read the chapter in several translations.

David’s soul is downcast, so he turns to God. He talks about times that were better and about how God continually pours out love. In the end, David reminds himself that he will again have plenty of reasons to praise God. He puts his hope in all that God is going to do.

I love that! All too often when something doesn’t go the way I want, I get stuck in a negative loop. “It’s never going to happen.” “That person is never going to change.” “I will never be good at this.” “My family will never want to do this.” Those are the beginnings of loops I have been wrung through.

The only times I should be saying never is “God will never stop loving me.” “God will never leave me.” “God never requires me to be perfect.” With God, I have all I need.

When I feel the urge to get stuck in that loop, I need God to help me bust out of it. I need to stop and pray-for guidance, strength, peace, or whatever I need at that moment. I must focus on times He came through for me or read about times like that in the Bible. I should admit my feelings like David did. But then I have to push past them and not wallow. David knew God had his best interest at heart and proved it with his changed attitudes in the Psalms.

Here is my new loop. “God, You are all I need. You have a plan for my life. I trust You.”

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth!

Pause on Black Friday

I just wanted to show you a picture of one of my favorite Christmas gifts. It cost a dollar.

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Seven years ago, when our oldest was a year and a half, James and I took her to the Dollar Store. We wanted Lauren to pick out gifts to give her grandparents and uncles on Christmas. Our hope was that she would select something just for each person and see the joy it gave them. While we were there, I saw this mug and said how much I liked it.

Christmas morning arrived, and Lauren surprised me with the mug I wanted. James had taken her back to the store without me and bought it. He listened and remembered. Isn’t that all we really want? We want gifts that show someone put thought into them. They either paid attention when we saw something we liked or they picked something they know we will enjoy. Doesn’t it make you feel cherished to get a gift like that? You are known.

So as you are shopping in the next few weeks, remember your gift doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive. Think about who each person is and what will bring them joy. And don’t be embarrassed if it only costs a dollar. It may be their favorite gift this year.

 

 

Linking with Faith Along the Way!

To You Who Have Been Hurt

As we enter the holiday season this week, I have a message for those who aren’t looking forward to it. The ones who have been hurt by a loved one and have let it fester. The people who have unknowingly been feeding their anger until it turned into rage and bitterness. There doesn’t seem to be an end to the torture, an end to the thoughts of what you want to happen to this person. Yes, you know it’s wrong and you realize they don’t deserve it, but you don’t know how to stop. Maybe the reason it started has grown a little hazy or maybe you remember it like it was yesterday. Either way, it is time to get off the Merry-Go-Round. It’s time to free your soul.

You may think your hatred is hurting that person, and you are probably right. Does it make you feel better to think of them hurting? Probably not. You keep holding on to your righteous indignation, but at this point, it has a hold on you. Yes, that anger has put you in a choke hold and now you are its prisoner. The anger that has been fueling you is probably losing its luster to you, but you don’t know how to let go. You don’t want to be this person anymore, this person you don’t recognize.

I have a solution that may not be what you want to hear, but please read it. Pray for the person who hurt you. Do you know how powerful prayer is? Prayer can change any circumstance, but more importantly, it changes you. When you have been holding on to anger and bitterness for so long that it has reached back and grabbed you, it can feel like no matter what you do, it won’t let go of you. Praying for the person who hurt you is like slowly pulling off the hand of bitterness, one finger at a time. It may be painful and it isn’t a quick remedy, but it will work. What do you have to lose? Praying for a person who caused you pain puts it all in perspective. It reminds you of their humanity and makes it nearly impossible to keep a tight fist on your anger. It shows God that you trust Him with your pain. He is the only one who can reach into your heart and warm it back up. He is the only one who can give you your life back.

Please don’t think I am trivializing your pain and what was done to you. I know it was terrible and you are now trapped. But if you don’t let go, I worry about your soul. I don’t want you to spend another Thanksgiving and Christmas thinking no one cares or understands. I care and understand so much I am crying for you. More importantly, Jesus cares. Place the bandage of prayer over your heart and allow it to protect your wound as it heals. Turn this pain over to Jesus and let Him free you.

May this be a season of love and forgiveness and the start of a beautiful future.

 

 

 

Linking with Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart.

Restless: Finding Our Purpose

Why are we afraid to dream big? Why are we sometimes even afraid to say what we are thinking of doing? How about if I go first!

I have spent time making lists and thinking about who I am and what I am here for. (I got the book Restless by Jennie Allen a few months ago. This is not a review, but the book is AWESOME!) Making these lists led to brainstorming ways to put traits and experiences together. Remember, brainstorming doesn’t mean everything will happen, but it lets your mind run free.

-Start a Bible study for moms in my neighborhood.

-Befriend older people who may be lonely and want to tell me stories.

-The girls and I can bake cookies or muffins for said elders.

-Invite people over for coffee more.

-As my girls get older, be the house they hang out at. When kids start to be home alone after school, have them come to our house.

-Write a book about intentional spending. And maybe other topics!

-Teach Lauren to cross stitch. She has an idea to sell items she cross stitches to raise money for poor and homeless kids. I will help her any way I can.

-Start a home prayer group.

-Never turn down an opportunity to give. (This will take a lifetime to master.)

-Never hide my flaws and mistakes from people.

See, I’m relational. I crave interaction but discovered I prefer one on one or small groups over larger groups. Having my Grandma live with us for years and spending lots of time with my Mimi and Papaw gave me a love of older generations and hearing their wisdom. Losing Mom at age 23 helps me understand others’ loss. Moving around forced me to meet people easily.

I think I can do the most for people through words. Sometimes on paper or computer, but more often in person. All the polite talk, the small talk, gets in the way of deep personal relationships. People are starving for real communication and eye contact. They want to see that someone gets it and know they aren’t the only one going through it.  They want to know they aren’t crazy. I prefer to go below the surface than to talk about the weather. (Well, we can talk about the weather for a minute. It’s too COLD!) I want to know how someone is feeling and what they are thinking. Anyone who reads my blog knows I tend to live my life as an open book. If I am going through something or feeling a certain way, I know others are too.

How about you? What are some of the experiences you have had that can be combined with your personality? God doesn’t waste any of it and will use it for His glory. Big or small, good or bad, they all add up to who you are. Let them bring God glory!

 

 

Linking up with the Saturday Soiree.

Help My Unbelief

Waiting seems to be the story of my life for the last few years. Now I am beginning to see there will always be times for activity and times for waiting. The ebb and flow of life. When I recognize those times of waiting, what I do is just as important as when I am in the bustling times.

This weekend, my family had a twenty four hour period of excruciating waiting. I refreshed my email way too often, wondered if my phone was working, and fretted many hours away. It was literally twenty three and a half hours of that.

Finally, I stopped. I had been praying, but this time I prayed differently. I told God I was sorry for behaving like this and for not trusting Him. I do trust Him, but something had been broken or disconnected in those hours. This prayer became one of those times of confession where I felt so bad about it that I cried. Maybe the world wouldn’t understand why my faith disappearing was so bad, but I knew. My heart had to break open and feel how it must make God feel. I was so sad. But then I didn’t feel sad anymore. God wanted me to understand, but only for a minute. Then I felt peace and light. I was back to knowing who is in control and who isn’t.

Within minutes, my phone rang. It was what I had been waiting for. Did y’all read that? Maybe ten minutes after I confessed my temporary insanity, God made things happen. That was not a coincidence! I had to learn a lesson and right what was wrong, which wouldn’t have happened if the call came earlier.

It appears I am still short on patience and trust. God knows I will need these qualities the rest of my life, so He keeps building them in  me. It is hard at the time, but each time it makes me stronger. There will always be circumstances out of my control that take their sweet time. I have to learn to keep my dependence on God or confess when I don’t.

Sometimes admitting to God that we haven’t had faith is the most difficult thing to do, but it has the most benefits. God knows the condition of our hearts, but we still have to confess our weakness to Him. He promised to give us strength when we need it. Psalm 29:11 says The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.

Even though our house selling situation is up in the air again, I am choosing to trust God. God always proves faithful to me, and I am fixing on His will over my own. He will work it all out.

 

 

I am linking with Holley Gerth!