Blue Jean Baby….

The little old man came to live with us almost a year and a half ago. His most adored and prized possession also made the move, his Harley motorcycle. He named her his Blue Jean Baby. His relationship with this bike remains his longest and most cherished. My husband ordered a new battery and for the first time in seven years the Blue Jean Baby revved it’s engine.

As I sit here watching my husband engage with his father over that bike, it makes me sad. You see, his father traded a relationship with him to run the roads and pursue the world of gambling. In that pursuit, he gambled knowing his extraordinary son.

Now, at the age of 69, he finds himself living with his son being cared for, guided and protected by him. He has sustained strokes, making relationship more difficult at this stage of his life. Oh and the motorcycle? Well, he hasn’t been able to ride it for years now. It is simply an item collecting rust and dust. No, the picture unfolding in front of me is anything less than endearing. How many times in life do we place things in front of people? How many times do we try and fill our deep need for God with things that leave us empty? And how many times do we wander through our lives avoiding what God has in store, missing rich blessings along the way?

The Blue Jean Baby reminds me that things should never replace relationships. More imporantly, things should never be placed before our Father in heaven. When we get our priorities out of line, we remain God’s priority. He sent His Son, Jesus so that grace and hope remain front and center. And lets be honest, God does some of His best work when the prodigal son comes home! Because of Christ, the sadness of the scene is replaced with love and hope. My husband has clear priorities. He loves the Lord with all his heart, soul and strength, which is why the little old man is here. And God? Well, God sees them both. And loves them. And He sees and loves you too!

Be joyful and prioritize!

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:11‭, ‬22‭-‬24 NIV

Sunshine….

An amazing thing happened yesterday in my part of Texas: the sun came out! It’s just so amazing how something as simple as a sun shiny day can refresh your soul, lighten your load and put a little pep back in your step.

Now this particular day of sunshine came after days upon days upon days of rain, which made it even sweeter. I literally felt lighter yesterday and full of hope.

My husband and I took the angel dog for a walk this morning and now I am sitting outside with the sun warming my face. What a simple pleasure this Saturday after depressing rain.

And that’s when I heard God whisper, pay attention! My light is always around the next corner. I will not allow the rain forever. Just hold on. My SONshine will warm you. He will refresh your soul, lighten your load and put a little pep back in your step. He will make your steps lighter and renew your hope. The rain is temporary; but, the Son lasts forever!

Be joyful!

Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
Psalm 119:116 NIV

Change.

I’m going through a season of change right now. Shifts in my time, redirection in my focus, and God’s silent whisper that something new is on the horizon. Change. If we are honest, it isn’t always our favorite word. Change means to make or become different.

When we really break it down, we are in a constant state of change. From the moment we enter this world, change infiltrates. Our bodies grow, our minds advance, emotions ebb and flow, and hormones shift. Education, employment, marriage, family and the aging process marches on making us different, day in and day out. We are, simply put, always becoming.

Some seasons in life feel more full of change than others. And often God pushes change along that is needed for our own good, which is exactly where I find myself right now.

If I’m completely honest, this season of change is stirring up something else too. Fear. Fear of the unknown. And I find my myself asking questions: What if the change isn’t necessarily better? Isn’t it better to stay here in what I know? Different isn’t always better, right?

Then, it occurred to me. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). He is a good Father and He requires that I relinquish control completely to Him. His changes are necessary. His changes are not temporal. They are eternal and life sustaining.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NIV

Change. It is a fact of life. But, we do not have to face it with fear and uncertainty. God’s truth stands unwavering for us in every season of life. Our Father is steering our becoming to something perfect and complete in Him. As my husband just reminded me, change is evidence of growth!

So, I say, bring on the change! My hope is secure in Christ. And fear, well fear is just a liar!

Be joyful!

May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Psalm 25:21 NIV

Can’t…

I taught Pound class last Saturday morning and found myself talking to one of my friends after the workout. I was, once again, belly aching how “I can’t” seem to get my act together on making better eating choices and how “I can’t” seem to string more than a couple of days together, and how “I just can’t” seem to lose this weight! My friend looked me right in the eye and said with complete sincerity, “Can’t? That’s funny, I don’t consider you a can’t person.” WOW! She stopped me in my tracks and sent me into some serious soul searching for the rest of the weekend.

You see, I have never considered myself a can’t girl. Quite honestly, I was not raised to be a can’t kinda person. Honestly, I don’t think I even realized the fact that I had said can’t three times in that conversation. Words have such power and they often dictate our strength or weakness. My internal dialogue had shifted to all the reasons that I can’t get my act together instead of focusing on the straight truth, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I verbalized that morning the problem: there is no can’t in Christ!

How many times in our lives do we allow the internal “can’t” to manifest externally and stop us from achieving our goals? How many times in our lives do we allow the lie that we “can’t” stop us from making progress toward I can? How often do we allow our words to defeat us instead of boldly claiming the victory we have in God’s Word?

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16‭-‬17 NIV

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NLT

Christ turns every situation we face into I can every time! And He has given us His Word, His Strength and His Companionship to accomplish good goals for Him! He also gives us people to remind us along the way who we are and who He created us to be! Glory!

I dare you to turn your “can’t” into can today! And then claim your victory!

Be joyful!

How Can I Help…

Wouldn’t our lives be so different if we approached every situation with the simple question, how can I help? I watched the show, New Amsterdam this week and was struck by this simple question that occurred time and time again during the show. The interesting part is that each time the question was asked, it was sincere and was asked in a way that made you believe that the intention of the person inquiring to help was genuine, encouraging and willing.

You see, I think we live in a culture that glazes over the importance of eye to eye, sincere communication. We isolate ourselves from each other with busyness and a lack of real human concern and empathy. I’ve said it before; but it merits saying again here: often we spend so much time with our head and eyes down on those small cell phone screens that we miss EVERYTHING.

How can I help my daughter achieve her goals and dreams for her life? How can I help my friend who suffered a death recently? How can I help my husband feel supported and appreciated? How can I help that stranger feel noticed? How can I help that stay at home mom feel valued and encouraged? How can I help this broken world find light and truth?

Helping starts with pausing, focusing, listening, and asking. How many times in life do we set out boldly to help with a situation, never even asking how indeed we can. Jesus said in Matthew 7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” He was showing us the way to approach helping right here in His precious Word. Helping requires getting our focus off of ourselves and onto someone or something else.

So, let’s be diligent today to open our eyes and ears to those people and situations around us. Is help needed? First, we have to notice. Then, we have to ask. And then? Well, then you have to stretch out your arms and give it every last bit of your energy. Ask, seek and then open that door, meaning jump into action. It’s what Jesus would do!

Be joyful and more like Him!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20 NIV

Every Single Day…

The question showed up on my Facebook wall yesterday and literally brought me to my knees. You see, I consider myself a relatively thankful gal. I express and show appreciation often. I feel that my blessings are abundant and think that I live my life accordingly. But, how am I measuring up on daily, expressed thanksgiving to my Father in heaven? Do I take time to truly inventory all the things that I have to be thankful for?

The truth? If I woke up today with what I expressed thanks to God for yesterday, I would not have even woke up. You see, the very breath in my lungs is a gift for which I rarely give thanks. These feet that swing out of bed each morning and touch the carpet….nope never gave thanks. The bed, pillows, sheets, carpet, water, plates, cups….the list goes on and on and on. It is actually quite sickening to realize how many things I have that I take for granted. Things that I need to thank God for. Every. Single. Day.

But, not just things. Do I really express thanks for the mind that God gave me? Do I thank Him for the spiritual gifts that He has given me? Do I realize that the perspective that He gives me is also a blessing and utter thanks? My very personality which enables me to lead an aerobics class or the eyes that I have to enjoy the expressions on my husband’s face. These are all items that I need to thank God for. Every. Single. Day.

Speaking of my husband, what about the people around me? Friends, family, even strangers who cross my path, do I give proper thanks? Or have I gotten in the habit of my prayers being rote and full of requests? Do I thank God for His Son, His Hope and His Grace. Every. Single. Day?

So today, I come to my Father with a heart and mind bubbling over with thanksgiving. I will make it a new habit to truly stop and ponder blessings anew each day. And I will be thankful. Every. Single. Day.

Be joyful and thankful!

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 NLT

I Won’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing…

I struggle with worry. It creeps into my thoughts even on the brightest of days. The worries can be small, “is so and so mad at me?” or “why did I eat all of that ice cream?” to bigger worries like “what would I do if something happened to my mom?” or “what if my daughter gets in a car accident?” Big or small, daily worries can add up and leave us mentally exhausted. Have you ever noticed that worry can cause our thoughts to spin out of control? Before you know it, that small mole hill has become Mount Everest. It’s no wonder that God tells us so often in His Word not to worry.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. ‘Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.'” Matthew 6:30‭-‬34 MSG

I love this version of these assuring passages in Matthew. It would do us all some good to steep our lives–hang out and soak up–some God-reality, God-initiative and God-provision. The definition of worry is to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. In essence when we worry we are putting blinders on, zeroing in on the trouble at hand. When we allow God’s Word and Hope to penetrate that worry, we allow God to remind us of His reality, His love, and His peace. And just like that those blinders come off and we can see Him, in all of His radiance. He is bigger than any trouble. Stronger than any worry. And He is in complete control. Glory!!

So, let me put some assuring lyrics into your heart that we learned this summer at Shipwrecked VBS. And I encourage you to sing along the next time worry tries to take over…

Free like a bird in the big blue sky. Not a cloud or a care for a million miles. I won’t worry, worry ’bout a thing.

God loves me and He loved me first. He rescued me when I was in a lurch. And I won’t worry, worry about a thing.

To the left I’ll fly, fly, fly.

To the right, I’ll glide, glide, glide.

No, and I won’t worry, worry ’bout a thing!

Gonna scoop down low, low, low.

Gonna soar up high, high, high.

And I won’t worry, worry about a thing.

Be joyful and don’t you worry ’bout a thing!