Authority…

Yep. I’ve been thinking a lot about authority lately; largely because we now have a 17 year old who is trying to thwart some of her own authority in our house! I think it is safe to say that most of us would rather be in the position of authority, rather than under someone else’s authority. The definition of authority is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

We live in a culture that no longer respects authority, particularly if that authority steps on our toes in any way. We also live in a culture where parents shy away from being the authority for their children, especially when life gets uncomfortable. And it shows in endless levels of disrespect and miscommunication.

I think it would be wise for us to remember that God holds all authority and He ordains authority too. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1).

Make no mistake, God is our authority and He is in control. And any person who holds a position of authority (i.e. leaders, parents, teachers, employers) are accountable to God for how they handle this authority.

It has been a challenging week for my husband and I as parents. As my daughter pushes back on some of our household rules, it is easy to lose our patience and focus.

Ya’ll, isn’t that a picture of what we do regularly to our Father in heaven? He places rules and ordains order and authority in our lives. Yet, we push back and demand that our way is better. All the while not realizing that those rules and boundaries are for our own good!! And instead of losing patience and focus, He sent His own Son to save us, providing us a way back into His loving arms of forgiveness and grace.

Authority. I’m so glad I have a Father who has the final say on this subject. What a relief! What a mighty God we serve!

Be hopeful!

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:5‭-‬7 NIV

Walking the Track…

The family went to the track on Sunday afternoon. The Angel Dog was thrilled to join the fun and eagerly took off prancing in his own lane, ears back, focused on the journey ahead.

He made it around the first loop and then the grass of the football field caught his attention. He wandered off to explore the grass. I kept walking, feeling very confident that he would quickly catch up. However, his distraction kept him longer than he wanted and when he finally got back on track, his angel face seemed overwhelmed by the distance he had to make up. I stopped, knelt down, opened my arms and waited, welcoming him with an embrace when he reached me again.

I can’t help but think God was giving me a reminder that day. You see, most days, I take off too, thrilled to be on the track, focused and prancing in my lane with Jesus’ leading the way. Then, just like that, I find myself side tracked checking out the grass that might be greener somewhere over there. And then, before you know it, I realize that the distraction has kept me longer than I wanted. And in that moment, life just seems completely overwhelming. But, then, I look up and see Jesus with arms stretched wide open waiting to embrace me and put me back in my lane, ready to lead the way. Are you overwhelmed? Look up! Are you side tracked? Fix your eyes on Jesus. Are you in need of a Savior? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Be hopeful!

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord . “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
Jeremiah 29:13‭-‬14 NLT

Highs to Lows…

Yesterday, my daughter went on her first true date. Her boyfriend picked her up and took her to the movies, unsupervised. Today, he broke up with her. Within twenty four hours, I went from hearing her giggling voice filled with teenage puppy love to a tear-filled voice filled with teenage heartache. Oh, the highs and lows of life!

Goodness, we’ve all been there haven’t we? One day, we are crushing it in life and things seem to just be clicking. The next day, we get that news about our health we weren’t expecting; or maybe we receive harsh criticism from our boss; or a friend says something that hurts our feelings; or possibly we experience complete rejection by a loved one.

Even Jesus experienced this during his time on earth. The same people that laid palm branches down and shouted “Hosanna” as he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a colt, raised their fists and shouted “Crucify Him” only a short time later. Oh, the highs and lows of life!

Let’s pause right there. Jesus experienced it too. Please don’t brush past this point. Jesus understands and can provide comfort for us in the highs and the lows of this life. There is absolutely nothing that He did not experience. He stands beside us in the highs and he holds us in the lows. He laughs with us in the joy and he wipes our tears in the pain. We are not alone in the highs and we are definitely not alone in the lows.

Hebrews 4:15-16 reminds us, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (NLT)

Mercy and Grace come in the highs and the lows. All Glory be to God our Father!

Be hopeful!

Breakfast for Dinner…

Yep. We are having breakfast for dinner tonight! I am currently frying up leftover baked potatoes and thinking of my first dad. As I shared in A Tale of Three Fathers, my biological father died when I was thirteen and home fried potatoes always makes me think of him.

When I was little, he would wake me up early on the weekends to help him cook breakfast, especially if there were leftover baked potatoes in the fridge. Oh what a memory! I would sit on the counter while he cooked on an electric skillet and we would talk and laugh, just the two of us. Boy, what I would give to be sitting on the counter right now talking with him!

We have a Father in heaven who longs to wake us up early too. He beckons us to sit on the counter, just the two of us, and talk and laugh while He is busy orchestrating life around us.

I encourage you to get up early tomorrow and spend some time with your Father. There is so much to discuss, so much to learn, so much to share and He loves you so much! Seek Him fervantly every day!

Excuse me while I get back to frying potatoes. Have a great weekend!

Be hopeful!

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Mark 1:35 NIV

Imperfections…

I woke up Friday morning with a pimple the size of Texas on my face. Seriously, this thing was humongous and I’m pretty sure it had little eyes and hands that were waving at me. The reason I say this is I could literally see this thing hanging out on my cheek at coffee with the girls that morning. I was afraid to turn my head for fear of wiping one of them out. Ridiculous. I haven’t had a pimple like that in years.

The funny thing is it brought back all kinds of memories of my years of acne. It’s truly a wonder that I didn’t do permanent damage to my skin because my friends and I would use enormous amounts of benzoyl peroxide on our faces. I’ll put it to you this way. I had to sleep on a white pillow case for fear that my face treatment would bleach it. Honestly, my chest was where I would smear the cream because that is where I broke out most, so I had to sleep in a white tee. Thank God that white tees and men’s boxer shorts were stylish to my friends and I. Do you think I am kidding? Here I am in the 8th grade.

Yet, I digress. Back to the issue at hand, which is the second nose now growing on my cheek. You need to understand that even as a write, I am dealing with the aftermath of who I now call, Gigantor.

Imperfections. They come along and shift our focus on a regular basis, don’t they?

And I think that is just what the enemy wants for them to do. He wants us to focus so much on our imperfections that we are completely distracted by our perfection in Jesus. You see, if all I am focused on is the ways in which I fail to measure up, then I fail to look up and find my treasure, my hope and my Savior.

We live in a world filled with imperfect, broken people. Yet, because of Jesus, we find perfect hope, perfect love and perfect freedom from our brokenness.

Where is your focus today? Is it on that blemish on your face? Or is it on the perfect face of Christ Jesus, our Savior?

Lord, help me look up at Jesus!

Be hopeful!

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 MSG

Promises…

I consider myself a woman of integrity and place value on my words, especially when a promise is made. I hope that most people have experienced this to be true when interacting with me. If I say that I will do something, I will do it.

Lately, I have been wondering how many times I have made a promise to myself and promptly broken that promise. Unfortunately, I think this list of broken promises might be longer than I want to admit.

How about you? Do you value a kept promise? How would you score on keeping promises you make to your self?

In Luke 10:27, “Jesus answered,  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

Love God with everything you have and then from that vertical relationship of love flows a horizontal relationship that extends love to everyone around us. But what I find fascinating here is that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Self, now that’s something that gets all the attention in today’s day and age. But what if it doesn’t? What if how we truly love ourselves is lacking?

You see a pattern of broken promises to myself is not a reflection of love. The same kindness, forgiveness, love, and benefit of the doubt that I extend to others should also be extended to me, myself and I.

I was reminded in church this morning the sweet message of grace. Because of Jesus, I will not be judged on my sins, failures and shortcomings; rather, my name appears in the Book of Life and someday I will spend eternity in heaven with my Father. God loved me so much that He sent my Savior Jesus, keeping His promise to Himself and to me. Now that is some new year hope!

Lord, help my love you more. Then, let that love fill me and spill over to everyone around me. Help promises to myself be as valuable as promises to others. But, above all else, let me honor you with every promise! Amen for me. And Amen for you!

Be hopeful!

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16‭-‬18 MSG

Tush Neck…

So, a funny thing happened this morning when I was putting on my make up. I noticed that the skin in my lower neck was sagging. Sagging in such a way that it reminded me of a baby’s tush. Seriously, like a little tush right there on my neck. I found myself analyzing it and if I’m honest sort of playing with it. Here was yet another comical reminder that 50 is rapidly approaching. Maybe it is time to bring back the ‘ole turtle neck. Or maybe I should just find a nice sweetheart neck line and let my sagging bat arms join in on some fun! Tush neck meets bat arms! If you can’t beat them, join them right?

The irony is that on January 2, I adopted the hash tag #fitandleanin2019 and selected the word hope for my new year inspiration. Four days in and here I am met with tush neck. I mean really shouldn’t the reflection in the mirror show me that fit and lean gal by now? It has been FOUR days of clean eating for goodness sake.

I finished putting on my make up and went out to show my husband my latest discovery. I’ll let you imagine his response to my new insight.

It’s funny how reality can meet us right smack dab in the middle of our perception, isn’t it? Now before you give me a lecture about being self absorbed, I realize how blessed I am to have arms to hold my husband and miles traveled in life to have a bit of sagging skin.

Each day, we have a choice. We can focus on our imperfections or we can allow our imperfections to make us stronger. And we can choose to remember that there is more to us than our imperfections. We are part of the most exciting story known to mankind: God’s Amazing Story. Laugh a little, shake it off and get back to work folks!

We are all works in progress and there is beauty in every ounce of sagging skin and flapping arm. My tush neck reminds me that I have some work to do and to laugh and not take it all so seriously along the way. And the even bigger take home is that my Father in heaven has important work for me to do through and for Him. He knows all about my tush neck and loves me still.

Be hopeful!

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV