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

New Year’s Resolution…

As 2018 comes to a close, I find myself considering some resolutions for the New Year. But, before I resolve to do anything, I think there are some things that I need to leave right here and not take into tomorrow.

Let’s take one of my favorite go to combinations: guilt mixed with a little shame. Why don’t ya’ll just stay here? I’m done allowing you time in my life. Oh and that pesky guy pride? Well, he can stay in 2018. For that matter fear can stay put too. I’m not interested in living another minute with jealousy based on comparisons and assumptions. And while I’m cleaning house, negativite thoughts and words be gone!

You see, tomorrow brings the opportunity for a fresh start and to resolve some things, which means decide firmly on a course of action. I was reminded that because of Jesus I stand firm in hope. Hope is manifested through God’s love for us and we can live in anticipation of good things to come, even when faced with trials.

So, I resolve in 2019 to be more hopeful. I resolve to see possibilities when faced with challenges. I resolve to find ways to be thankful every day. I resolve to laugh more often and love more deeply. And I resolve to spend time with Jesus each and every day. For it is because of Him that I can resolve to do anything.

Be joyful!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

He’s Here…

We had a Birthday Party for Jesus last night at church. We played a version of the game musical chairs with the children, using a wrapped present. The children passed the present around their circle while the music played; then, when the music stopped whoever was holding the present unwrapped a layer of paper. The person to unwrap the last layer of paper got to keep the gift. This game is so much fun to watch! Each time the music stopped, all of the kids squealed with delight. One little girl in particular caught my attention last night.

She was absolutely “all in” when it came to this game. She squealed along with everyone else and while another child was unwrapping the present she whispered, “please let there by another layer, please, please”, eyes full of delight, she was so stinking cute!

It occurred to me that I want to approach these next four days leading up to Christmas much the same. I want to squeal with delight at the lights, trees, cookies, carols and gifts that surround me. I want to gaze at Jesus in the manger, eyes full of delight and remember that Jesus is born. He’s here for me. I want to whisper to that baby, “please let there be another layer of your love, your hope and your joy in my heart. Please, please.”

I don’t know where this Christmas finds you. Maybe you are dealing with a broken heart, illness, separation from loved ones, depression, anxiety or other disappointments. I encourage you to take time to gaze at that precious baby boy in the manger and find comfort, joy and peace. He dwelt among us. He could have left us on our own. But, He did not. There is nothing that Jesus did not endure after He arrived lowly in that manger and He went on to save each one of us. You are not alone this Christmas, this year or the next. He is here!

Francesca Battistelli reminds us of the beauty of Jesus with her song, You’re Here. I pray these words wash over you and give you Christmas hope!

Hold on now, I gotta take a deep breath; I don’t know what to say when I look in your eyes.
You made the world before I was born; here I am holding you in my arms tonight.
Noel, noel, Jesus our Emmanuel.
You’re here, I’m holding you so near.
I’m staring into the face of my saviour, king and creator.
You could’ve left us on our own, but you’re here.
Don’t know how long I’m gonna have you for; but I’ll be watching when you change the world.
I look at your hand, they’re still so small; someday you’re going to stretch them out and save us all.
Noel, noel, God with us Emmanuel.
Someday I’m gonna look back on this; the night that God became a baby boy.
Someday you’re gonna go home again; but you leave your spirit and flood the world with joy.
Hallelujah! You’re here! Hallelujah! You’re here!

Be joyful! Jesus is here!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NIV

Isn’t it Ironic….

As you know, my daughter is 16, soon to be 17. She is smart, loves to laugh, pretty, and naturally athletic. And she is also completely self absorbed. But, you know what? When I was 16, soon to be 17, so was I. My cousin once told my mother, “there is nothing as self absorbed as a teenage girl.” I tend to agree. I have been considering my own mom lately and how she must have felt during my teenage years. All I can say to her is that I am truly sorry.

Let’s face it, we can look at the juxtaposition of a mom and a teenage girl and see that God truly does have a sense of humor. Look at hormones alone. A teenage girl’s hormones are surging, while a middle-aged woman’s are decreasing. The result is a little bit of crazy crashing into each other. (Oh my, our poor husbands!) And come to think of it, a teenage girl’s body is developing and in it’s prime physically; while a middle aged woman’s body is drooping and each morning brings aches and pains anew.

My daughter is standing at the beginning of her journey and I am realizing that I am most likely halfway through mine. Each day my focus is on her and her focus? Well, it’s on her too! (Ha! At least we have that in common.)

Okay, reality check folks. Comparisons of any kind steal our joy and all of this nonsense really doesn’t matter either. It is merely yet another season of life. And it will pass and most likely pass way too quickly.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8 NIV)

So, I have come to the conclusion that I will lean into God’s Word, enjoy the beauty in the irony of this particluar season and keep moving forward in love! We are about to celebrate Jesus’ birth and we can have as much of His joy, love and grace as we want. It is a free, pure gift from our Father. For every season.

Oh, and I will definitely call my mom in the morning and tell her that I am sorry once again, and giggle with her about my own self absorbed days and tell her I love her, which is a blessing in and of itself.

Be joyful!

Oh Christmas Tree…

Christmas season is in full swing. Like many others, I typically love this time of year! I spent the day cleaning, doing laundry and thinking a lot about Christmas. Honestly, I have been feeling a bit disconnected from the wonder and joy of the holiday. I don’t know if it is life or hormones (or both); but for some reason I am feeling a bit blue.

I just sat down in front of my Christmas tree, the room darkened from the incoming storm outside and realized that God was once again trying to get my attention. Sweet whispers, “you are blessed. I am light. Take my yoke. I’m still here.”

Consider the lights on your Christmas tree tonight. Have you ever noticed that those lights bring warmth and hope into the room? The lights of the tree are an open invitation to linger, relax and stay a little longer.

Jesus is the Light of the World. And He enteted the world as a baby in a lowly manger to save us. His light is an open invitation to linger, relax and stay a little longer. Jesus brings warmth and hope into our hearts. On such a day as this. Pure radiant glory! We are not alone! Consider His light!

I wonder if you might be feeling disconnected too? If so, I pray that God speaks to your soul today, reminding you of His presence. And I encourage you to look at those Christmas tree lights with complete innocence and abandonment. Jesus is calling. Can you hear Him?

Be joyful!

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29‭-‬30 NIV

I am an Adult…

I was struck by something significant this year on Thanksgiving day. I was busy in the kitchen for the second day in a row and it hit me, I am an adult. I know this sounds crazy; especially being that I am 46 years old and have hosted family Thanksgivings in my home for several years now. But, the thought truly stopped me in my tracks. When did this happen? When did I become responsible enough to prepare Thanksgiving? In fact, when exactly did I become so responsible in general?

You see, it seems like just yesterday that I was a kid in my Aunt Mary’s kitchen, watching her prepare her famous Thanksgiving dressing. I was completely unaware of the responsibility circling around her. The thought truly never crossed my mind as I watched my Aunt that I would host Thanksgiving in my own home for my own family one day.

That same precocious child who always dreamt of being a mom never considered the responsibility of motherhood. It never occurred to me that I would one day fumble through the teenage years, making difficult decisions about another human beings’ future with the weight of that responsibility often making me weak in my knees.

I am an adult. When did this happen? When did all of this responsibility show up? Who in their right mind would put me in charge of Thanksgiving? Does God really think that I have what it takes to raise a child?

The smattering of grey hair, the fine lines around my eyes, the awareness of time not just marching but sprinting on baffles me. When did I become an adult?

You see, often God is preparing us so efficiently that we don’t even realize the significant changes occurring around us. We are so busy with the task of living that we don’t pay attention to the shifts in roles and responsibility. And when we are children, we definitely take for granted all the things people are doing to keep our lives moving along. We have no idea that responsibility even exists.

It’s no wonder that Jesus tells us to approach the kingdom of heaven like little children. You see, children are not tainted by the weight of responsibility. They admire heaven, Jesus and the world around them with innocent abandon and blissful faith.

So, maybe the realization that I am an adult was God’s way of whispering to me to let go and approach life like a child. Maybe it was his way of assuring me that I can handle it all by remembering that I am simply a child being guided by her Father. The responsibility is actually His and my role is to be an obedient daughter, faithful and trusting.

When did I become an adult? Well that happened all while I was yet a child in my Father’s eyes.

Be joyful!

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2‭-‬3 NIV