Stray Dog…

Angel Dog

A stray dog chose our family over the weekend and the angel dog is not happy. In fact, we have yet to even introduce the two dogs and the angel dog is already guarding his home territory. The angel dog is upset, barking and judging the stray dog through the sliding glass door. Every time I come in from checking on the stray, I receive the cold shoulder from the angel dog and a stiff back if I dare try to pet him. The angel dog is seemingly resistant to change and threatened by the idea of another doggie sharing the love. Let’s be honest, this is less than “angelic” behavior, angel dog.

Boy, can I relate. I was thinking about how many times in my life that I have stood inside the sliding glass door judging the situation outside. There have been so many times that I have gotten myself all worked up over a perceived threat without even truly assessing whether a threat even exists. Oh and goodness, I have been inconsolable and angry with the people around me trying to care for me in my overly dramatic attempt to protect my home territory. And I have definitely found myself resistant to change more than once in my 46 years on this earth. Yes, I can relate to less than “angelic” behavior, my sweet angel dog.

God calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He encourages us to take His yoke, trading our heavy burdens for His easy grace. He insists that we enter into relationships with an open heart and relentless understanding, not judgment. He asks us to trust that He will steady us during seasons of change. He reminds us that we can rely on His constant presence and comfort, even when we get ourselves all worked up over a silly stray dog.

Stray Dog

And before we know it, we realize that God has worked all things for His good regardless of our less than angelic tendencies. Just breathe angel dog. Just breathe and know that you are loved.

Be hopeful!

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:11‭-‬13 NLT

Go Ahead and Twirl…

We bought my daughter’s dress for her junior prom last week. It is a traditional ball gown in a beautiful shade of pale blue, made for a princess with a long, full skirt. She looked like Cinderella when she came out of the dressing room. I choked back tears because she was simply breath taking!

It reminded me of seeing her at our wedding. She was 7 years old and dressed in a white dress with a full, knee length skirt that flowed out and around her when she twirled with excitement in her eyes. Ladies, can you remember twirling when you were little when the skirt or dress fit the occasion?

A few years ago, we used the theme, Sky for our Vacation Bible School. The movements to the songs were graceful and flowing, with lots of twirling and soaring of our hands through the air. I can still remember one little girl, around 5 years old, dancing and twirling for her Father in heaven with complete abandon.

Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to” be” the Beauty of the story. (Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John Elderidge)

Isn’t that so true? Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in the innocent, unabashed delight of a little girl twirling in her dress? Yet, life beats that out of us somehow and we begin to believe messages like: you aren’t pretty enough; you aren’t thin enough; you aren’t smart enough; you aren’t strong enough; nobody wants to see you twirl; you aren’t enough. And before you know it, the twirling stops.

Listen, God is whispering to you to twirl! In His love letter to us, He tells us that we are chosen, beautiful and more than enough. In fact, we are a royal priesthood and we are fearfully and wonderfully made to accomplish glorious things!

I encourage you today to bask in the innocent delight of a Father who delights in You! I encourage you to dance, twirl and know in your soul that He could not love you any more or less than He does today. Make no mistake when you come out of the veil of lies that the world has sold you, He is waiting and you take His breath away!

I can’t wait to see my beautiful daughter twirl in her dress in a couple of weeks and I pray that she never stops twirling.

Be hopeful and go ahead and twirl!

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalms 37:23‭-‬24 NLT

Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 1 Peter 5:7 AMP

I Dare You…

Here’s the truth ya’ll, I don’t think that we take God at His Word. We struggle with control, worry and self worth; instead of trusting God and what He has to say.

We allow the size of our pants, our job title, or our social status to dictate how we feel about ourselves; all the while spouting that our hope is in God and God alone.

Our prayers are bold in words; but, weak in complete trust that God sees us, hears us and answers us.

We allow trust issues to keep us from loving those around us deeply, abandoning ourselves to walls that we build that isolate us further.

We seek the approval of others and often change ourselves to fit in; which essentially places God’s opinion of us lower and of less importance than others.

We allow fear to dictate what we can’t accomplish, setting parameters on our abilities; instead of seeking God on what we can accomplish and seeking what He enables and empowers us to do.

So, this evening, I dare you. I dare you to see God in His fullness: all powerful, fully capable and willing to give you the absolute best life. The same God who parted the Red Sea and stopped the Jordan River to rescue His people fights for you every single day.

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Joshua 4:24 NIV

I dare you to take His Word as complete truth and to bask in the light of that truth and what it has to say about who you are and what you are capable of accomplishing for Him.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

I dare you to let your identity in Christ be the most important opinion in your life and let it permeate your soul, allowing you to walk in bold, secure and complete confidence.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

I dare you to be a bold, limitless prayer warrior, trusting to your absolute core that God answers every prayer in His perfect timing and within His perfect will.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NIV

I dare you to love people without fear. In fact, love fiercely without expectation of something in return; be quick to forgive, slow to anger and extend grace often because that is exactly what Christ does for you.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
Psalm 103:8 NIV

I dare you to replace fear with faith and love, stepping out of your comfort zone to serve God boldly. Let God give you a “can do” attitude in ways that you never thought were possible. His ways are good and fear doesn’t stand a chance against our mighty God!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 NIV

I dare you…..

Be hopeful!

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!

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