My sun porch

My sun porch

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Photographer: Ingolf Kristiansen  Source: Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved from:

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." -- Romans 12:2 The Message Translation

These "polar vortex" sub-zero temperatures we've been having have been a shock to our systems and caused our daily routines to change in so many ways. It also has made me think about being frozen in a different way. 

The picture above was taken in Lovund, Norway, last weekend. It was so cold, in fact, that a school of herring that strayed too close to shore apparently froze in place. As I looked at this picture, I couldn't help but feel sorry for these fish. They are just following the crowd, swimming along and when they got too close to the shore on this one cold day that they froze right in place. I also couldn't help but think about the times when I have been frozen.

I don't mean frozen in the same way as my body temperature getting so low I am frozen solid, (although this week there have been times I thought I was close!) I mean frozen...stuck...I can't move forward no matter how hard I try or no matter how much I want to. This specific predicament of being cemented in one place has happen several times in my life. It is frustrating and erodes my self esteem and my energy. I also don't think I am alone. From talking to my friends, I find that many people feel frozen from time to time.

How does one become frozen? I wonder about that often. I mean, I am a very busy person, running from this activity to another; from this responsibility to the next. How in the world do I have time to allow myself to get stuck? For me, I think many times complacency is the culprit. Since I am so busy, I become semi-satisfied with the way things are, even if they aren't the way I thought I wanted them, because it is easier to be satisfied than it is to do the work to change. Changing an ingrained habit or routine takes hard work and I just simply don't seem to have then energy.

That's why I keep going back to God's word for support, strength, courage and energy to thaw out my frozen self! 

In the recent Disney movie "Frozen," Queen Elsa sings 
"Let it go...
It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small. 
And the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all. 
It's time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. 
No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I am free!" 

She breaks free from the habits and routines that had her frozen in her own castle. (Ironically, she discovers this on a frozen mountain top.) Elsa may not go to God's word for her strength, but she does realize that she has to let the old behaviors go before she can move on.

I need to let it go. I need to move forward...again. I need to break free from this frozen comfortable cocoon that I have allowed myself to get trapped in yet again. I used The Message Translation of Romans 12:2 above because it explains what I need to do to a tee. First of all, I need to allow God to help me. I need to the give my life and every thing I do back to God...again. I don't believe God gets tired of me needing to thaw myself again. I believe He is there, cheering me on, encouraging me, pushing me forward, and giving me the "heat" I need to begin to thaw.

By stepping back, and really looking at the behaviors that have me frozen, I believe I will gain some new perspective. If I stay where I am, I will not grow. I will stagnate in my frozen state and I will die a little bit every day. I need to listen for God's coaxing. If I really listen, I will learn to understand what my Father wants from me. He has given me everything I need to thaw from this frozen prison. The things that once controlled me: my need to fears...They can't hold me down any more!

Those frozen Norway fish didn't have a chance against the freezing waters and howling winds close to the shore. They weren't aware of their circumstances...they didn't know where they were. They were caught unaware. 

Dear Father, help me not to be caught aware! Thank you that I have realized my frozen state! Now, let me open my heart, my mind and my spirit to your teachings that will allow me to break free from those habits that are holding me back. I let them go! I give my life and everything I do to you AGAIN and know that you willing accept. Help me to grow, do the work, and Lord, bring out the best in me. Amen.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Christ is enough for me...

"Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." -- John 8:12

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." -- 2 Corinthians 12:9

Some of my friends may say that today's post will be "too Jesus-y" but I can't help it today.

When things feel too much for you, or conversely, when things are not enough for you...where do you turn? What do you do to keep going? I confess that I at first I go into my self-pity party mode. Why CAN'T things be better or the way I WANT them to be? I sulk around. I frown and growl at those around me. I eat, I sit, I cry, I eat some more. However, I have found that I cannot sustain this self pity for very long. I realize it is getting me nowhere and I search for a door out of that particular party.

"I AM the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." -- John 10:9

My next instinct is to reach out to my friends when I get in these moods. They lift me up, remind me of all my blessings and gently lead me to the one who REALLY can pull me out of the pit. My friends pray with me and for me. While I am so very grateful for these faithful friends, whom I believe God has strategically placed in my life, I also know that even if I didn't have them in my life, I would be alright. I know this because I know I have Jesus in my heart.

Over the three years of Jesus' ministry on earth,  there were many times He said two specific words when speaking about Himself. In some of the statements, He simply said, "I am." Other times He followed "I am" with other words that explained and defined who He was exactly. It is these statements that I reach for.

I AM from above.
I AM the good shepherd.
I am the Son of God.
I AM the bread of life.
I AM the resurrection and the life.
I AM the way, the truth, and the life.
I AM the true vine.
I AM Jesus.
I AM leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.
I AM gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
I AM the light of the world.

The following statement is not an "I am" statement, but it is no less important: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."  -- John 14:1-3

I DO believe in Christ! I believe that one day I will be Jesus in my Father's house and there will be no more tears, no more disappointment, no more anger and no more fear. I will have EVERYTHING need and my desires will be met! 

So, there are those who say you can't live this life waiting on the good stuff to happen in the next. I do believe you can't just sit around, waiting to die so you can go to the better life in heaven. However, when this life disappoints and leaves me weeping in a puddle on the floor, I look for those "I AM" statements and look up and forward for my Father's salvation plan. God keeps His promises, and I for one, am going to hang on to those promises!

Jesus also says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." -- Matthew 16:24

I have decided to follow Jesus. So what if I don't have everything I would like to have in this life?? So what?? If I am following Jesus, there is no turning back! I don't want to live in the darkness of the self pity party! I want the light of life! Christ is enough for me!

And, for those friends who think this is too "Jesus-y"...all I can say it is my story. This is the reason I can get up out of bed in the morning. It is the reason I can push through when my heart is breaking. Whether you believe or not, it is my story, and I am sticking to it! Amen!

Friday, January 17, 2014

People like us...

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." -- Genesis 1:27

People like us...this sentence has been playing in my head for days now.  There are times when an idea percolates in my brain and won't leave me alone until I write about it and get it out of my system. This is one of those times. There are many ways you change the phrase "people like us" just by the inflection of your voice or the word in the sentence that is stressed. It can really change the meaning of the phrase, AND, that phrase can be used to explain much about our world and society today.

PEOPLE like us. Human beings are all people. While we all look different in many ways, our bodies work in basically the same way. We all have a brain and a heart and blood and complicated body systems that keep us alive. It helps me at times to remember this fact. When I am feeling intimidated by someone for whatever reason, I am more able to deal with that person when I remember how much I have in common with him or her. I have a loving nurse friend who once told me something that, while a bit crude, puts everything into perspective. "Everybody poops." It's true. Every one of us, even the most beautiful, perfect, intelligent person who intimidates me has to deal with eliminating waste from their human body. Knowing that has helped me in several situations! 

People LIKE us. We all want to belong. Even most of the loners among us have a need to belong and fit in. Some of us care more about this than others, but we all seem to want to be liked by at least a few people in our lives. Some people, like me sometimes, seem to worry about this too much. We want people to like us so badly that we will put our own wants, needs or desires aside just so another person or group of people will like us and want to be with us.

People like US. Now, this one can get us unto trouble. Since we want to be liked so much, we sometimes find others that have similar characteristics, hobbies, traits or even the same skin color or same religion and group ourselves with them to the exclusion of others. We also are good at putting others outside our group into categories as well.  I think our minds are also built to put things into categories or groups. Remember the old Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the other?" However, we seem to forget the part where we are all people...we are ALL made in God's image no matter what makes us different. We fear those who are different. We don't understand people who are different because we don't open our minds and hearts enough to let God help us understand them and help us love them the way we should.

So, why was this topic so important that it wouldn't leave my head until I wrote about it? Well, I think it's because I wish all PEOPLE would think about this phrase a little bit more before they use it. When you think about it, we are ALL people like US. We are all in need of love, grace, forgiveness and acceptance. Isn't that what Jesus taught us?

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -- Matthew 22:36-40

If you loved your neighbor, who is a PERSON, just like you, as much as you love yourself, and treated them as such, wouldn't this be a better, more peaceful world?

Thursday, January 9, 2014


"When I said, “My foot is slipping,”  your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." Psalm 94:18-19

What do you see when you look in the mirror? There are times I look at my reflection and I don't like what I see. I am not just talking about how my face and my body don't look the way I would like them to look. I mean, yes, I see the wrinkles, grey hairs and bulges I would rather not admit were there, but there are also things I see that most people do not see. I see reflections of the person I don't want to become. I see the angry words said in haste. I see the bad habits I try to hide. I see the pride and vanity that sneaks in and steals the joy from the things I love to do. I see the weak spirit, jealousy and indifference that keep me from doing the things I know I should. I see the pettiness that keeps me from letting things go. I see the low self esteem and fear that keep from following through and doing the big things I dream of doing. I see the things about myself that cause me the greatest anxiety. It makes me want to take my flat iron and throw it into the mirror, crashing through the unappealing reflection I see so I can look at it no more. I do NOT want to be THAT person!

However, instead of crashing the mirror and hiding the reflection, perhaps I need to evaluate that reflection. Maybe I am not seeing things how they really are, but how I AM at that moment. I am a human being and by my very nature, I am not perfect. I have flaws: physical, emotional and spiritual. When gazing at THAT reflection, who could POSSIBLY love me? At THAT moment, I am not very lovable, but there is one who DOES love me, my creator and Heavenly Father. 

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 2 Corinthians 5:17 

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand"  Isaiah 41:10

God DOES love me! I don't have to let the darkness of my reflection I see right now dictate who I am becoming! When I am slipping off the mountain into despair, God loves me enough to support me. He loves me enough to lift me up and strengthen me so I can do the hard work of examining and changing those human flaws. God loves me DESPITE those flaws and knows me well enough to NOT want me become the person I don't want to become! That knowledge consoles me during these times of hard reflection, eases the anxiety in my heart and brings me joy. If my creator Father can love even the ugly parts of me, I have hope that I can change!

Sometimes it is good to look at the reflection you don't like to see. When I look deeply at the reflection of who am becoming, I then can see past the flaws and love myself despite my flaws as well. I can then look even deeper and see that I really AM created in God's image! I can see the beauty of God reflected back at me! I can do the hard work and allow GOD to change who I am becoming!

Dear loving and gentle Father, today allow me to look into the mirror and see YOU looking back at me! Please help me to feel your love enough to allow you to lift me up and support me in these times of self doubt and fear. Thank you for reminding me I am worthy of your love because you created me in your own image! I CAN become the person you want me become! Change is not easy, but it is doable when I have the joy and hope that comes with the acceptance of your unconditional love. Amen.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Can I be happy for 100 days?

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -- John 16:33

I have accepted a challenge from a see if I can be happy for 100 days. This is a good time of year to accept this kind of challenge. Winter, and especially one like this one where we've already had a lot of snow and today will be one of the coldest days in 20 years, tends to bring out the sad side of me. I know a lot of people who truly suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that makes them feel sad, lethargic and sick because of a lack of sunlight. I don't think I have this disorder, but I think I it is easier for anyone to find reasons to be sad and depressed in the cold, grey and dreary winter days. Add in some problems, some worries, some sad memories and some things not going my way and you have a recipe for a good minor case of SAD for me.

So, my friend's challenge came at a very good time for me. I know that my happiness may not last all day, and 100 days are a LOT of days to stay happy. However, for 100 days, I am going to be taking pictures of things that make me happy and posting them in this blog AND on Facebook. This way I can look for even little things that make me happy and by sharing it with others, maybe other people can be happy for a little bit too!

To start things off, I have to share my #1 post in my 100 Days of Happy...

Because of the frigid temperatures, I am off work today. I still woke up early. Wrapped up in my cozy blanket, I had the TV remote all to myself. I actually squealed out loud when the channel landed on the Brady Bunch! I love this show because it brings back happy memories of watching this show when I was a kid and it just makes me smile! It is corny, sappy and sometimes pretty silly, but I still love it! A good start for my #1 happy day, don't you think?