My sun porch

My sun porch

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Love calling...

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." -- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Okay, I have to tell you about my experience this morning. All week I have been feeling... frustrated, worried, not good enough, unworthy...just plain out of sorts. Rationally, I know none of these feelings are warranted, but nonetheless, those feelings have been plaguing my heart. I woke up feeling worn out and not ready to face the morning. I though a bath might relax and rejuvenate me and I thought some music might help as well. I often listen to Pandora, and have a contemporary Christian channel that plays familiar worship songs.

As I slipped my tired body into the water, the first song that came on was "Worn" by a group called Tenth Avenue West. Let me tell you, those words spoke exactly what I have been feeling like lately...I am worn. Then the next song was another song that I knew, loved and spoke exactly what I needed to hear. During my morning bath, each of the songs that played spoke to my heart and encouraged me.

As I slipped out of the water and began drying off, I felt better. Then the next song was "Love Calling" by Toby Mac, that talks about getting back up when you feel knocked down. It was that moment that I felt like God had just given me a loving "mix tape." He WAS calling out to me and comforting and loving me through the music on my phone. I felt loved and encouraged and can move on with my day, letting go of some of those "out of sorts" feelings.

Doubters may scoff at that, but I don't care. Who cares if I feel better believing that my Father God loves me enough to listen to my prayers and cries and send me a "mix tape?" It gives me hope.

I share this story with you so maybe you can open your heart and your mind enough to believe that God loves you enough to reach out to you too! God IS love and love will call you and encourage you as well.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A morning meditation

"My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness." -- Isaiah 26:9

When I am dealing with any situation, especially a difficult one, I get stressed out. My stomach gets upset, my head hurts and I feel like running away. When I am in the middle of something, trying to resolve something, my brain seems to override my heart and God is not the first thing I think of. After the situation has calmed down some and I am evaluating the situation, THEN I think about what I should have done and how I should have prayed DURING the situation instead of after.

At least in my life, emotions have a way of taking over my body. I get angry, hurt, frustrated and my rational mind seems to go out the window. It is then that I say and do things that I regret after. I often wonder why that is. Why can we think of things we SHOULD have said and done well when we are thinking about something after the fact?

After just such an emotional "discussion" with my daughter last night, I woke up this morning still feeling a little raw and out of sorts, still going over things that were said in the heat of the discussion. I needed to put it behind me and stop letting my emotions upset me so, so I turned to my Bible. I opened to the Isaiah verse above.

I do long for God. The spirit that is inside me longs for my Heavenly Father to wrap his loving arms around me and tell me everything is going to me alright. When I am worried about how I am raising my daughter or concerned about choices I am making, I long for God to tell me I am doing the right things or tell me what to do if I am not. I long for a world without conflicts and "discussions." They are hard and upsetting, but unfortunately, they are part of life.

Somehow, just reading that passage from Isaiah did comfort me a little bit. Someone else in this world longed for God. I am not alone in my feelings of worry and concern. Even the last part of the verse, that talks about God's judgment and righteousness was comforting to me. Throughout trials, God is trying to teach us the right way. I don't believe that the reason I am feeling out of sorts and upset about things is a coincidence. God WANTS us to learn from our mistakes and from our situations and puts that desire for Him in our hearts so we DO long for Him and search for Him. God WANTED me to pick up my Bible and look for His wisdom this morning. Did He want to comfort me and teach me something? It is my belief and my hope that He did. He is God. He is powerful enough to do anything. He is my Father...why wouldn't He want to reach out to me and wrap his arms around me and tell me everything is going to be alright?

Father God, I thank you for your comforting words this morning. Thank you for placing people in my life last night who helped me with my situation. I may not have said and done all the right things last night, but I feel you teaching me through it. I long for you every day. Thank you for seeing that longing and reaching out to me today. Amen.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Tony Dungy (click on the name to watch video)

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." -- 1 Corinthians 10:13

I just have to tell you...SO MANY times I have been thinking about an issue in my life and something hits me at that exact time and makes want to write about it. That happened to me this morning. Yesterday I was watching my teenager with the device that seems to never leave her hand and TRYING to understand why she thinks the 7 second "vines" are so very funny. In my head I was thinking that her attention span is SO short and I need to do something to get the phone, Kindle, computer, etc. OUT of her hands for a few moments at a time so she can experience her last year or so as a kid. I then looked at MYSELF and I had my phone in my hand and was considering checking Facebook because it had been 10 minutes since I last checked it! Wait a minute...

I woke up still thinking about how tied I am to technology. I attempted to give up Facebook for a short period of time this spring, and discovered that is far too important to give up. It is my way to stay connected to friends and family. It is a mode of communication for several groups I belong to. It is a way of sharing pictures with people as well as seeing pictures of others that I want to see. I continued to contemplate the effects of Facebook and smart phone technology on my life when I watched my "I am Second" daily video. Tony Dungy speaks about how he encouraged his players to let the distractions around them disappear so they could concentrate on the goals ahead of them. He also made it clear to his superiors that although he would lead his players to win games and head to the Super Bowl, football and his job would NOT be first in his life. Tony learned to put God first and not let anything distract him for that goal.

I. am. distracted.

That is the biggest problem in my life right now. I am distracted by so many little things, such as my technological devices that it is much easier for me to take my eyes and my heart off the goal of putting God first. I am so distracted that I can't seem to stick to a healthy lifestyle, consistently make wise financial decisions, stick to a habit of quiet devotional time, or even spend quality time with my family. I used to be able to do those things...what happened?

Take a look in my family room in my home any given evening after my husband gets home from work. The TV is on, all three of us have a device of some kind in our hands and if there is any conversation, it is taking place simultaneously as we are checking Facebook, The Best Vines, sports scores, Pinterest or any number of other websites. It pains me to read back over that last couple of sentences because it seems very sad to me, but that is our currently reality.

Today, I am laying my heart and my prayers out on the table. I pray that I can work to change my family's current reality and encourage each one of us to put down all the technology for a period of time at home so we can connect with each other the old fashioned way. I pray that God blesses my efforts to put HIM and my family before my need to be "connected" by technology. Dear God, this issue has come into my consciousness for a reason and I believe I need to do something about it. Help me to know what to do and DO IT! I also pray for others who are reading this and feeling distracted as well. Lord, help us all to keep our technology in perspective and not let it run or ruin our lives. If we truly put YOU first, I believe you will bless our efforts. Amen.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Think the grass is greener?

Wayne Simien (click on the name to watch the video)

"All people are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever." -- 1 Peter 1:24

Don't we all sometimes think our lives are not what we want them to be and we long for better those of celebrities, sports stars or the very rich? We think about all of our little problems and challenges and think if we had THEIR lives everything would be better. We get the attitude that "it sucks to be me!" and we want something better. The old saying that the "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" seems to lead our lives. However, I think we need to take a page out of an old book by Erma Bombeck who said that "life is always greener over the septic tank." The grass may be greener, but it took a whole lot of "fertilizer" to get it that way!

As Wayne Simien humbly said in the video, he did have everything that a 20 year old college basketball star could ever wanted and his future looked very bright. Even after he entered the NBA and had a very successful rookie year, he knew something was still missing. He found out what was missing after he put himself and his career second and God first.

By putting God first in your life and allowing Jesus to work in you and through you, life may not go exactly the way you had envisioned it, but it will be better! You may not have material success, but you will live a successful life. 

When my life isn't going the way I want it to go, or I am frustrated or disheartened by something, I cry out to God and once again put Him first and put my selfish needs and wants second. I find that when I do this, I end up finding someone else that needs a shoulder to cry on or needs some help. I put my needs aside and help someone else, but I get helped more than anything! I have also found that God sends His comforting message to me through other friends who put Him first in their lives. A note of encouragement from one, or a text of support from another at the exact moment I need it always seems to come, whether I ask for it or not! I believe that is because I am learning to put God first. He sees my efforts and gives me the reassurance I need. It is a "I am Second" cycle, don't you see? 

We don't need riches and glory in this life. Those things only wither and fade away. God wants us to see that by putting Him first and following his lead He will provide EVERYTHING we need! There will still be times when "fertilizer" seems to pile up on our grass. But when we realize that EVERYONE has "fertilizer" issues and leave it to God to spread that "fertilizer" around in exactly the right amounts, we will find that our grass will also be green and beautiful! 

I am Second!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Forgiveness can be freeing!

The Scruggs (Click on the name to watch the video)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." -- Proverbs 3:5-6

All morning I thought about writing about forgiveness today. As I took my shower, words and sentences about forgiveness were taking shape in my mind. I thought about times I have been forgiven and times I have forgiven someone else. I thought of friends in my life who have forgiven loved ones and moved forward in their relationships. I thought of examples like the Amish community who reached out and forgave the man who killed their children in the school house shooting. Then, I watched today's I am Second video and was amazed that it was about how forgiveness and faith in Jesus saved and rebuilt a broken marriage.

Forgiveness when you have been hurt is so very hard. We naturally want to draw into ourselves and protect our hearts when we have been hurt. It is so much easier to hold on to the hurt and let it build walls around us than it is to let go of the hurt and leave ourselves open to being hurt again. If holding grudges were an Olympic event, some of us would have a mantle full of gold medals!

However, while holding on to hurt and anger is natural for us, letting it go and forgiving is so freeing and lets us move on and have our hearts open to more wonderful and amazing relationships. So, just how do we fight the natural urge to hold on to the hurt and learn to forgive? I believe in my heart that knowing Christ, believing in his forgiving and renewing grace for our sins, and relying on HIS power to forgive is the way to fight our natural tendencies to withhold forgiveness.  How can I know this? Because I have learned to let go and forgive people who have hurt me, and the only way I could have done that is by following Jesus. Jesus said we are to love God and love others, so that's what I try to do every day. 

I'm not saying I let others do whatever they want to me and walk all over me. Jesus stood up for those who were persecuted and I don't believe he wants to see anyone be weak and beaten down. BUT, when someone does hurt me, I ask Jesus to help me see that person through HIS eyes and try to understand WHY they did what they did. When you put yourself in the shoes of someone else, it makes it easier to identify with them and forgive them.

Has someone hurt you? Did a friend betray you? Did a spouse cheat on you? Did someone say something mean or untrue about you? Instead of holding on to that hurt, ask Jesus to help you let it go. Take a look at that person through Jesus' eyes and try to understand them better. You may never understand why they did what they did, but Jesus will help you learn to forgive. It may take time, but you will see and feel the difference in your heart when you let go of the hurt. God can do amazing things in a heart that learns to forgive! Just look at the Scruggs from the video.