Archive for October, 2010

Three Strikes

Have you ever had one of those days when things just didn’t go your way?  Last week, my daughter did. 

It all started when she was accidentally poked in the eye during PE class.  Later, her misfortune progressed to falling off the ladder of our treehouse.  As I heard the screams, I came running to find her looking like a pretzel – one foot still on the third step of the ladder, arms twisted under and behind her and chin on the ground with a mouthful of mulch.  Luckily, there were no major injuries and I was able to nurse her back to happiness.  She was a trooper following both incidents but the final mishap of the day pushed her over the edge and into a fit of frustration.  You see, the door in my office will only stay open if it’s held in place by a door stop.  Otherwise it slowly inches back towards the door frame. She entered my office, talked for a minute and as she turned to exit, met the door square in the face.  It happened so quickly that I was unable to intervene.  Her response, “That’s it! I’m going to bed.  Tomorrow has to be a better day.”

I’ve had similar days in my walk with the Lord.  Those days that everything seemed to go awry – I just couldn’t get it right.  I desperately wanted to please and glorify Him, yet my words and reactions were woefully askew.  I prayed, “Lord, help me to be patient with my children,” yet spoke in frustration anyway.  Or, “Lord, help me to have the willpower to not eat that chocolate,” yet overindulged because my flesh is weak.” Or, “Lord, help me to love my husband as you love him,” yet complain to him about his schedule and question his priorities instead of acting with thanksgiving that he’s a hard worker and provides for our family.    

But thankfully, I’m reminded of God’s mercy and grace.  As I approach Him with a broken heart over my actions and behavior, He forgives me.  He forgives me and remembers those sins no more!  We serve a loving God who redeems us.  Seek His forgiveness and tomorrow becomes the promise of a new day.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:11-13

The Gift of Laughter

Have you ever been drinking from a straw and a few minutes later forgotten there was a one in your glass?  Recently, I was out with a group of friends having lunch when I picked up my drink, forgetting I had been using a straw.  As I raised the glass to my mouth, the angle and timing aligned in such a way that the straw entered my right nostril like a train barreling through a tunnel in the side of a mountain. After the shocking sensation, and then extracting the straw from my nose, I began to laugh… and so did all the others.  I’m sure the expression on my face was a combination of surprise and bewilderment as it t took a second to figure out what was going on.  In response to my straw-in-nasal-passage issue, they began to snort and convulse – looking as absurd as I had seconds earlier.

The point of my story… well I don’t really have one.  I just thought it was funny.  OK, so maybe that’s my point.  Life is funny, but too often we forget to laugh?  Have you laughed lately?  God created humor.  God created laughter.  But sometimes we get so busy and stressed that we forget to exercise that part of us.  God wants us to enjoy life, so go ahead and laugh. You may find that it’s not only therapeutic, but also contagious.

My challenge for you today is to not go to bed tonight without first having a good laugh. And tomorrow, be sure to pass it on as you find a way to share the gift of laughter.

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Psalm 100:1-2 (The Message)

Rejected by Them, But Not by Him

Ouch! I just got the dreaded email message. My latest book idea was rejected.  Not because it was a bad idea, but because another book that the publisher released last year in the same genre didn’t perform well and they don’t want to take the risk.  OK, I understand… it all comes down to a business decision.  It’s not personal.  But it still hurts. 

No one likes rejection.

We all long for acceptance, yet rejection is a reality in our lives.  We feel rejected when other people don’t notice our efforts.  We feel rejected when a relationship ends.  We feel rejected when someone doesn’t agree with our ideas…

Jesus understands our struggles and hurt because He, too, was rejected.  So much so that He was put to death.  Yet He accepts us unconditionally.  His love for us is so great that He died for us – that’s the ultimate demonstration of acceptance.  So, if you’re feeling down and out, I pray that you’ll remember that God loves you – and accepts you – even when others may not.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7

Seeing Past the Clouds

“It looks like rain today, Mom.”

As I looked into the sky, I saw a small hole in the clouds with blue skies peaking through and a hint of sunshine. It was a great visual reminder that even with gray skies, the sun is always shining.  Typically when it’s raining or cloudy, I simply focus on what’s visible to me.  But the reality is much greater than what I can see with my eyes.  The sun is shining brightly above those clouds – the clouds just happen to be blocking my vision.

How often in life do we allow the storms to block our vision of the truth of God’s love?   The truth is that God’s light and love is always brightly shining.  His love for us hasn’t changed when our circumstances look dark.  He’s has left us or forgotten about us.  But during those stormy times, we have to exercise faith – faith that He has a plan and a purpose that may be greater than we understand.  Do you trust His love for you even when the storms start brewing? How would you measure your faith today?

“’Everything is possible for him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:34-34).

Will you pray with me?  Dear Heavenly Father, Please help us in our unbelief.  Help us to believe in your love for us.  Help us to believe that you desire good for us and trust that you can use tough times to facilitate growth.  Help us to believe in your power and mighty Spirit.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Connected

I can no longer touch her.  I can no longer hear her sweet cry.  I can only see pictures of her.  Oh, how I long for my precious baby Ashlynn.  My time with her was woefully short.  And so, I pray that God will help me keep her memory alive.  And He does! 

Just last week, it happened during the worship service at church.  I attend the contemporary service so the music is typically rockin’ and hip (for church music), not traditional.  However, that particular day, a simple song from my childhood appeared.  It happened to be a song that I now sing to my children.  I didn’t start singing this song to them until my son was born.  But even now it calms him if he’s upset. 

The lyrics and music are pure and worshipful. It goes like this: “I love you Lord; And I lift my voice; To worship you; Oh my soul, rejoice; Take joy my King; In what you hear; May it be a sweet, sweet sound; In Your ear.”

Again, it was extremely unusual for this song to be sung during the service.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard it sung during a worship service at church.  It’s a song that I associate with summer camp.  But as I was standing there singing, I was overcome with emotion.  It occurred to me that I was worshipping God in harmony with Ashlynn.  I was very aware at that moment that she was in the presence of God worshipping Him while I was standing there doing the very same.  She’s there, in heaven, and I’m here.  We both worship the same God.  We’re both in God’s presence.  We’re still connected. And how ironic, that it happens through a song that I sing to my other children during the stillness of night?

I am thankful for that special moment to feel connected to Ashlynn.  I know that one day we’ll be reunited for eternity.  In the meantime, I will continue to praise and worship God with all my heart (and know that she’s doing the same).

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise: his greatness no one can fathom. Psalm 145:3

Sugar Babies in a Tree

The ficus tree in my foyer remains a mystery to me.  The kids often decorate it, store toys in it, occasionally toss candy wrappers in it, hide messages to me in it, and even stuff dirty socks behind it… but I never see them do it.  It’s always a surprise as I walk past to see some new evidence of my children’s presence in that very spot. 

A smile emerges as I notice a new accessory on the tree.  I immediately think of them.  I wonder what they were doing or playing or thinking when they left their mark.  Without realizing it, I’ve become fond of their little presents in that tree.  So much so, that I often leave things there as a visual reminder.  It’s almost as if those special effects are their signature cards.

Recently, a box of Sugar Babies appeared between two trunks of the tree and I began to have endearing thoughts of my kids which quickly morphed into a picture of how I see evidence of God in my life. As often I my kids leave proof of their presence, so does God.

I know He’s always here, but sometimes I don’t sense it.  However, often times He’ll leave His fingerprints all over a situation or event and I’ll see visible evidence of His presence.  I saw Him in the unexpected check that helped pay our mortgage when my husband was without a job.  I saw Him in a desperately needed phone call I received just minutes after I prayed. I saw Him years later when I discovered how He orchestrated a series of events for two people to come together in a time of need.  I saw His hand in the encouraging note I received from a stranger when I was having a tough day. In those times, I smile with delight and hang onto to those treasured memories.

Have you seen evidence of God in your life lately?  I encourage you to stop, look around, and take note.  He may be leaving His calling card right before you, just waiting for you to see.

 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.  Leviticus 26:12

Follow your Passion

“I was made for the city!” my daughter announced after a family trip to New York City.  She was energized by the activity and excitement. She loved that we walked to our various destinations and that there was always something interesting to watch or do.

 So what are you made for? What excites you? What do you enjoy so much that you lose track of time when you’re doing it?

We were all created for work, but we’re also created to worship.  When these two things intersect, we find that sweet place of contentment and joy in doing what we were created to do. God has gifted you with talents and interests and although these can change over the course of our lifetime, He wants us to share our gifts and talents with the world around us.

 I challenge you to find ways to use them for His glory.  You’ll reap a harvest and the world will be a brighter place as others will see Jesus in you.

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  James 1:17

Sweet Whispers

Shortly after my son turned two years old, he learned to whisper.  He would lean close to my ear and whisper “love you” or “mama” or sometimes just “truck”.  It didn’t seem to matter to me what the message was, his voice was so tender and sweet I would melt.

But, in order for me to engage in those precious moments with him, a couple of things had to happen.

  1. I had to be close to him.
  2. I had to be attentive and still.

As I reflected on those times, I thought of my relationship with God and imagined a similar image of Him whispering to me.  Oftentimes in Scripture, God’s voice is portrayed in a loud and thunderous manner.  However, in 1 Kings He appears to Elijah in a quiet moment.

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
      Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. (1 Kings 19:11-13)

Where are we in our walk with the Lord?  Are we close enough to hear His guiding voice? Are we still enough to hear His whispers of love and encouragement?

My prayer for us is that we won’t let the noise of the world drown out the sweet whispers of our heavenly Father.  That’ll we seek a closeness with Him that hushes the busyness around us and draws us into His tender care.