Many Beautiful Candles Snuffed Out Way Too Soon

 

I posted this on Facebook on Sunday night but never posted on my blog…perfect love

Saturday morning I read the news about the death of Christina Grimmie. She was shot by a gunman while signing autographs after a concert – she died of those wounds shortly after.

I spent many weeks watching her on The Voice a couple of years back. She was amazing – so full of life and spunk. She had incredible talent and every week on The Voice I looked forward to what she would do next. I was never disappointed.

I’m still in shock over her senseless death. I have been praying for her family and her fans all around the world. She has left a lasting impressing on my life. A beautiful candle snuffed out way too soon.

This morning, Sunday June 12, 2016 I woke up to the news coming out of Orlando of the massacre of 50 people and even more wounded – many critically. I’m not one to set out to watch the news, ever. But when things like this happen, it’s plastered all over social media almost instantly.

When I read this news, I was instantly grieved, as was everyone else I know. Something like this is so hard to wrap your brain around and I’m not sure we ever will be able to. My fall back during these times is to pray. And while praying, I didn’t ask God why this happened. That’s the wrong question. What I asked instead was, “How do I pray, what can I do?”

The way God talks to me is through my thoughts so instead of waiting for a great big booming voice to tell me how to pray, I just started to pray in the spirit. Then I began to intercede for the survivors and for the first responders. I prayed for the families of those who had lost loved ones and I prayed for those whose lives were forever changed. He was directing how I prayed.

I’ve prayed many prayers today. Every time I sat down and was still, I couldn’t help but pray.  My heart has been so heavy at the senselessness of it all.

BUT, I’m here to focus on what we CAN do.

What we can do is not only pray without ceasing, we can let this day change us. We can let this day strengthen our resolve to love better, to be a light of love shining to those around us who may not even know there is such a thing. It is love that will change the world. All our words mean nothing if we don’t go out and demonstrate it.

We can be the defenders of those persecuted ones. We can extend unconditional love no matter what someone looks like, what they believe, who they love or even who they don’t. We can pray for those who are doing these senseless acts. We can pray and support the victims. We can be lead to exactly where we are needed and most effective, if we can have ears that hear the heart of our Father. We can be the hand of kindness. We can bring a ray of sunshine and hope to the hopeless.

On and on it goes. Sometimes we have to stop spending our time talking about the problems and go be the solution. This is one of those times. The finger pointing solves nothing. Not really. Instead, we can take an active part in spreading peace, love and joy to a hurting world.

It’s time to leave the building. It’s time to take back out neighborhoods, our cities and yes, our country! Who’s with me??

 

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Got Fears?

Light presence

I belong to a writing group on Facebook; several actually. In one of the groups, a writing prompt was given asking us to name five fears we had and write about it. That is the reason for a writing prompt after all.

I saw the post the first day it was posted but didn’t respond or leave any comments because, to be honest, I didn’t want to think about fears or the fact that I might have any. As if!!

Today as I was “scrolling by” I actually felt a response rise up in me as I read the prompt again. I remembered an incident that had happened in the recent past and that lead me to other realizations.

Isn’t that always the case? What you may have been avoiding or at least avoid admitting, is something that needs facing so we can get healed. And as is the case many times, someone else has experienced this same thing. When we have the courage to share and be transparent, it has the potential to bless and encourage many.

What I realized while reading the prompt was that I sometimes have a fear of being found out. What I mean by that is when someone encourages me or blesses me or even compliments me, I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve it. I feel like they don’t really know who I am. There’s a fear that they may find out who I am and be disappointed or repulsed by me. Or they may discover I’m not at all who they thought I was.

Those voices can be so convincing!

Of course, it’s absolutely irrational to listen to lies and base who I am on those things but there is nothing rational about fear! Fear is on the outside and when I listen to its whisperings or agree with the lies it speaks, I have allowed it inside.

Fear will lie to me about my identity every single time. And actually, that’s a really important key to overcoming this. When I’m firmly grounded in who I am, fear can’t touch me.

I know that I know, I am worthy and I am who HE says I am…and how can that be anything but awesome? But fear can somehow make me forget all the things I know and convinces me that I need to fear man, to even crave the approval of man – while at the same time telling me that I’m not worthy of even that approval.

Fear whispers that it is man’s approval we need and perverts any affirmations and encouragement we receive from others. We all need affirmation and encouragement and it’s not the same thing as approval, not at all.

When I was planning the trip to NC to go see Praying Medic on the Sid Roth show I had a really hard time with this fear issue. I kept hearing these whispers in my head saying, “What if they find out you’re not who they thought you were? What if they don’t like you? What if they think you’re a fake?” All these things began to swirl around in my thoughts and at times were almost overwhelming to the point I wanted to cancel the trip.

Fortunately, God is bigger than fear. I began to still myself and hear His still small voice wooing me back from the brink of depression (or whatever it was). He began singing over me and reminding me who I am. It was an intervention just in time. I was then able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and ignore those lies. I was able to confess the truth about myself. And I was able to go to NC and celebrate a great friend being celebrated!

I have since discovered that as long as I’m being authentically me, warts and all, I will be fine. People will love me or even like me according to their own will, not mine. And it was a great lesson to learn, and sometimes, re-learn.

When we are able to walk in our true identities, we can allow others to love us and even like us. And we are also able to love others right where they are. None of us are perfect but another thing I’ve realized is this: We tend to show more love and encouragement to others than we do towards ourselves. That’s really skewed because the scripture tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and that means if we can’t love and encourage us, how can we do the same to them – we can’t. It’s that simple.

The lesson learned is that if we don’t feel good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or whatever enough, we need to tell those voices to depart. Turn around and listen to what God says about you. Quiet those voices and be still. I promise you, you will hear Him singing over you…right, where you are.

Today, fear is far from me.

If you find that this resonates with you, know that you are an amazing person! Are you perfect? Heck no, who is? But you are loved and needed and you have things to contribute that will be missing if you don’t escape those lies. Freedom to be who you are is your inheritance. Let’s walk in that. Hey, better yet; let’s DANCE in that! Come on, be encouraged, and be awesome!

Seated in Heavenly Places

 

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I’ve been thinking about the verse in Ephesians 2:6 lately, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus“; so I went and read it again…

When I’ve read this scripture in the past, I always difficulty seeing myself seated in heaven; it always felt like a cold harsh place of judgment, a place to be avoided at all cost. Sometimes, if I tried really hard I could see myself seated there. I would be sitting on a dark limestone throne that was so cold I could feel it seeping into my bones. The room itself was really dark and bare. So dim in fact that most of the room was undistinguishable. There was no comfort or peace there, only a sense that I didn’t belong and if I got caught there, I would be punished.

This cold harsh heaven became a place to avoid. And because of that, I never imagined sitting up in heaven, which in turn made it difficult to get a heavenly perspective on my life.

Perspective is what changes when you get further away from something and generally is what’s meant by the phrase ‘get above it’, that and an understanding of our authority and power in Jesus. If I didn’t have a perspective change, there would be no sense of authority, power or particular wisdom to effect change in my life. All I basically had was head knowledge, of this scripture, knowing where I’m seated and declaring it all the time. What I lacked was a true vision or sense of what it afforded me, what it really meant.

This time, after I finished reading that verse again, I began to see an image from my childhood.

The image was one of freedom and joy, where a little girl was free to run and run and run, and dream big dreams until the sun went down and she had to go home. You see, as a child I practically lived outside. I climbed trees, made trails in the woods, built forts, picked flowers and played baseball whenever we could get enough people together. One of my favorite things to do was daydream. Boy could I get lost! I would often be found lying on my back under a tree staring up into the clouds and getting lost in my imagination. I wasn’t always seeing anything with my natural eyes. My “sight” was elsewhere. I daydreamed of my future family and what I would be doing with my life someday. Sometimes I was off on great adventures where I had the starring role and was greatly celebrated for my bravery and wisdom. It makes me smile just thinking back to some of those carefree times.

The image brought a smile to my face but at the same time it kind of made me sad. It seemed so different than where or how I was currently living.  Some days, where I lived was more like the sun had gone down and the adventures had stopped.  Wow! Why was that? I wasn’t using my imagination to see things differently. I wasn’t dreaming up answers to questions in my life. I was too close to everything. I needed a new perspective!

 

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The other day, as I was reading a post on Facebook, I saw something new; I saw this scripture in an entirely new light. Instead of sitting on a cold hard throne, I saw myself sitting atop a grassy knoll. Sitting beside me was my best friend. We were looking down toward the valley without a care in the world. Then we lay down on our backs and started looking at the clouds. They were big fluffy cumulus clouds, sailing high above our warm sunny place. I began to describe what I saw in the shapes of the clouds; a castle, a horse, a dog and yes, even a pirate ship!

Wherever I looked, I saw a new perspective; I saw things in a new light and I wasn’t feeling powerless to effect change any longer. The difference, I think was in the rest I was experiencing; I was at ease and was able to let my imagination run free. I was that little girl again!

You see, we were created to freely imagine things, be creative like our Father and to actually create the solutions to the situations going on around us in our lives, and the lives of others. We have the answer, if we will have eyes to see and ears to hear a new perspective that is available to us all.

Nothing had actually changed in my physical life when I was sitting on that hill. All the previous “issues” of life were still down in that valley but being at rest gave me new eyes to see. Patterns began to emerge that I had never seen before, and really isn’t that a great reason to live next to Jesus in the heavenly realms? I learned some things the other day. Here are a few of them:

While sitting in heavenly places (Eph 2:6) I discovered:

New perspectives – leave the mouse in the box vision behind and begin to soar like an eagle.

Things that are far away look smaller – stop glorifying how big the issues of life are and begin to see the true size they really are. For instance: if you hold a piece of paper the size of a credit card up close, all you see is the paper. Once you place that piece of paper further away, you begin to see all kinds of things around it and even beyond it. That’s because if we only focus on that one ‘problem’ thing, that is all we see. It becomes too big to see anything else.

The heavenly realm is a place of peace – When you allow yourself to be seated in heaven, peace will infiltrate your entire being. Those things that cause worry and distress fall to the wayside, thus allowing you to see from a new perspective, which brings me to the next thing I learned.

The heavenly realm is a place of rest – When I’m at rest, worry ceases to exist. I’m free to not only see solutions to issues in my life; I’m free to create them! I was made to create, just like my Father.

When I’m at rest, much is accomplished – Rest is not a taskmaster. No, rest is the fuel that empowers me to accomplish all the things I need to do within a given day. It empowers me to be at peace and walk in joy, even while doing mundane things. This rest comes from above.

When I’m at rest, time ceases to exist – I don’t know the physics about it but I do know this: When I’m at rest, I leave the constraints that time has on me and I can do things that would otherwise be impossible. Yes, there are still 24 hours in a day here on earth…….but who said I had to be constrained to one realm??

This is a place where my imagination and creativity can soar because God raised me up with Jesus and seated me with him in the heavenly realms!

Turn the page…

sleepy kitty

I’ve been on a bit of a journey of late. Albeit an unwelcome one, I did glean a few things from it. And that’s the point of a journey when it’s all said and done, right – to capture some elusive thing that wouldn’t have otherwise been discovered – at least maybe?

So here’s what happened:

On Thursday, as many of you know, I came down with a stomach virus and had to leave work early. I won’t go into all the gory details of driving home in rush hour traffic while throwing up. No, I won’t.  Once I got home, Paul sent out some prayer request on Facebook and as the faithful people you are, you responded in turn. Thank you, for those prayers.

By Friday morning I wasn’t much better which of course may have something to do with the fact I was up all night – maybe. My lack of energy and basically feeling sore all over forced me to be in bed all day, but I did sleep a lot.

When I got up on Saturday morning better – so much so, I thought I could go into work and at least stay for a good part of my shift. I was wrong – back to bed I went, after driving all the way there and back again.

By now, it’s Saturday mid-day, I’m in bed and going bonkers! I don’t feel bad enough to stay in bed but every time I get up I feel out of breath and woozy. My computer, which is a desktop, is in the other room and my phone just isn’t a great substitute for a keyboard for me. I just need something to do!

I went into the living room where we had moved the TV and tried my hand at flipping channels, but that didn’t even work. I somehow got confused about which auxiliary I was using or what channel I needed to be on or something. Either way, I couldn’t get it figured out and only ended up more frustrated; so I went back to bed and took another nap.

When I woke up, I discovered that I’m starving! That’s a sign of getting better, right? Food wasn’t making me nauseous anymore so naturally, Paul and I decided to go out and get some food for an early mother’s day dinner. We had a great time, I was feeling a lot better and of course the company was the best. The food on the other hand was a stupid (for me) mistake – I ordered pizza. Yes, see what I mean?

By the time I got back home I was already feeling very sore in my stomach and had indigestion to boot. Needless to say, I was up all night again. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. (Not me, but my choices!)

And then it was Sunday, Mother’s Day…and where am I? You guessed it; I’m in bed having a great big pity party because I can’t do anything except stay in bed. I can’t even have coffee…again!

Did I mention somewhere the fact that I never get sick? It’s true, I almost never get sick and maybe that’s why this was such a difficult time. Or, I don’t know, maybe a tough strain of virus!?

But, to explain, this post isn’t to depress you. No, it’s to tell you what I learned from all this. (Smile)

  1. I hate being sick!
  2. I’m a terrible patient!
  3. I don’t do well without food! (It makes me hangry!)
  4. I’m grumpy
  5. No coffee??? I can’t even…
  6. I develop ADD when I have to stay in bed. (Aka, I am so restless!)
  7. I am more stubborn than I knew. (Okay, some people already know this)

But what I did learn was that I really can rest. It’s a work, for sure and maybe that’s what is meant by, “Strive to enter into His rest”, but I did manage to do it. I also learned that listening to Wisdom and not being impatient early in the game is much better than realizing it later and paying dire consequences. (At least in this case)

During those times of restlessness I was whining to God and having a big ole pity party. (I can’t even begin to call it prayer because it wasn’t.) I felt so left out of everything; all alone. I even began to entertain lies about not doing enough, not writing enough, not whatever enough! I was getting really sad and depressed for a while there! Yes, of course I realized those were lies I was listening to but sometimes, I find myself there in the midst of them anyway.

Eventually, God interrupted those voices and I plainly heard Him say, “You don’t need to do anything; you are enough exactly as you are. You are loved right now, right where you are; even in bed being sick. I love you.”

The lies left immediately. I let out a big sigh and had a few tears. He is so good. He was with me the entire time and when I quit listening to lies, I heard him and felt Him near. He didn’t need me to do anything or be anything. He simply wanted me to rest and feel how loved I am. And really, is there a better gift than that?

One more thing I need to mention. I also learned that even in the midst of suffering, I am a very blessed woman.  I was in a warm/cool home of my own, not out on the street. I had many loving friends and family members praying for me. I had a sweet wonderful husband who was always available for any need I had and I even had a sweet kitty by my side the whole time demonstrating what peace and rest was all about. (First world blessings, I say)

I am alive and doing fine, thank you very much. Turn the page…

 

Picture found here: http://www.petpictures.xyz

Mother’s Day and Honoring Women

Beautiful-Butterfly-On-Pink-Flower

Mother’s Day is on May 8th this year and that makes it less than a month away. I have to find a victim, quick! No, really. Let me explain…

My mother passed away 7 years ago and because she has gone on, it doesn’t exempt me from honoring mothers all around me. There are single mothers who need encouraging, spiritual mothers who need honoring, sisters who have forgotten how awesome they truly are or maybe you’re a mother to orphans who simply needs someone to listen to what has happened in your day. The need is greater than we know.

I’ve heard it said that Mother’s Day is only a ‘Hallmark’ holiday and it doesn’t really matter that much but this couldn’t be further from the truth! It matters a lot. No, it doesn’t matter how the world celebrates or even doesn’t celebrate; WE are of a different kingdom and we know how important mothers are, right?!

Mothers are the very first teachers we have and they impart so much with their time, their love and their wisdom. Mothers are our first confidants and the first ones we run too when we are little. Remember those mashed up flowers we grabbed with our tiny little hands just so we could present them to our mommy’s? Remember how she kissed our owie’s away and everything was all better?

And when we are older and our relationships with our mothers were more than a little strained because WE knew absolutely everything and she was only trying to keep us from all that WE knew we could do. Right – even those days she was there; washing our sheets, making us meals and even praying for our safety and for wisdom to “please dear God” land on us! I know I wasn’t the easiest daughter to raise; maybe not the worst but in hindsight, I could have honored her more.

But this is not about regrets! NOPE. This is about loving and honoring the women who have raised us and mentored us. It’s also about those we came to depend on in our time of need. Let’s not let an opportunity pass to honor these great women. And you do realize,  whether a woman believes in Jesus like we do or not has nothing to do with it at the end of the day. Jesus knows her and He loves her well. We should also.

So, my challenge to you is this…

Find someone to honor and celebrate extravagantly this year. Take them to dinner, send them something in the mail, go clean their house or buy them flowers. And most importantly, tell them how much they’ve meant to you, how they’ve spoken into your life. How awesome they are!

And then, come back and share the testimony of how blessed they were by your kindness!

Spring

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Spring – I love the transition from one season to the next. I love all the earth waking up as if from a long slumber.

While I know she doesn’t really sleep, it often feels like she does. But instead of slumbering, she does a lot of work during those dormant months; roots are being strengthened and lengthened, bulbs are getting fertilized from the previous year’s foliage and trees are growing new rings. So much is happening while we stay inside and let nature get along without us, so much we never even see or probably even think about.

But spring! This is a time of year when we all feel more energized and alive! We feel the unspoken invitation to leave our homes and venture outside again. And I don’t know about you, but this is also when I start making excuses to linger outside instead of doing inside chores. The birds certainly feel (and act) more alive with the entire mate finding, nest building, and egg hatching! The flowers are dressed in their finest clothes and the sun begins to warm the earth again. This kind of transition is the best!

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I also love it when I get to spend time outside in the garden, not looking at what needs to be done but looking at what already has been done! Not one time did I go outside and yell, “Wake up, wake up!” No, creation knows better than I what time it is and if I will but take a moment and look around, I will be amazed at the world around me.

Sometimes I think I’m like a little kid on his first Easter egg hunt – everywhere I look is something exciting to be found and seen. It’s amazing to me how I can forget how beautiful leaves are, or seeds during my winter time inside. Simply amazing!

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Today I finally went exploring around my yard with the camera and I thought I’d share a little of what creation is singing about over here in my part of the world.  I’ll spare you the 38 pictures I took and only share a handful of the better ones. I hope you enjoy them.

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Easter feasting, another excuse to gather around the table

Spring has arrived here in Nashville. Fruit trees are in flower and the early spring bulbs are already poking up their heads. Did I tell you I love spring? Well, I do. Easter is just under 3 weeks away so I wanted to repost this from last year. Maybe it will encourage you to gather around the table with family and friends alike and have wonderful conversations!

The Table

Easter 4

I love spring. As a matter of fact, I love both transitional seasons; spring and fall. I only wish they lasted longer before the intense heat or cold sets in. In the spring all of creation erupts into song. The birds begin a new season of nest building and family growing. Nature awakens from the long winter sleep and flowers begin to pop up all over the place.

For me and our family, spring means Easter. And Easter means lamb. For years we celebrated the feast with baked ham like many others until one year, back in 1993 if I’m correct, I received my monthly Bon Appetite magazine. In it was a Greek Easter feast that I simply HAD to try. I used every single recipe for the meal and even added a Martha Stewart recipe for Spanakopita instead of just purchasing them at the store. I looked up a…

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