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

Small Annoyances…

I’ve been dealing with a few small annoyances lately. You know, those things that creep into your life that are subtle; but, find their way into your daily thoughts and in some cases force you to change your routine.

The first of these annoyances has been my heel. I have a bone spur the size of Texas in my right heel and something I did a couple of months ago irritated it. I’ve had to make adjustments to my teaching schedule at the gym and have been working with a podiatrist. (By working, I mean receiving cortisone injections in my heel, ouch!) Oh and I have to make reasonable shoe choices. Y’all, I am sick of sneakers! I made the choice of walking in my boots this past weekend in a Boot Walk fundraiser in memory of a dear friend of mine. It was an easy walk, just over a mile. Turns out that was not the wisest of choices. My mom has lectured me twice, as well as said podiatrist. My heel is again agitated. Annoying.

Two of my closest friends have recently been diagnosed with life changing diseases. Both are amazing woman, strong and brave. But, they are facing new normals with their health, along with that comes fear, helplessness, change in habits and new routines. They are both present daily in my thoughts and prayers. But, I find their situations annoying. Especially for them.

It’s the time of year where the “to do” list grows longer, the days seem shorter and my time seems stretched, making most days feel like a marathon race from the minute my feet hit the ground. Again, if I am honest, I feel slightly annoyed with this too.

Yet, in the midst of these small annoyances, in the midst of life, God sends fresh reminders to look up, reach out and slow down. You see, we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. (Priscilla Shirer, Gideon). Small annoyances are part of the human experience and many times God uses those annoyances to grow us to be stronger spiritually.

The pain in my heel has allowed God to connect me with some amazing women for a bit of an easier workout, walking and then talking over coffee. God has used my friends working through health issues to remind me to value my own health, as well as value each and every moment I have with them. My growing “to do” list comes from a happy, highly active and involved family, which I spent years hoping and praying for.

When faced with annoyances, we are faced with a choice too. We can choose to be annoyed or the opposite: pleased. Being pleased over annoyances comes from trusting that God is good and the absolute best teacher. Look up, reach out and slow down!

Thank you Jesus for life’s small annoyances. Help me change my focus from these annoyances back to you, allowing you to grow me stronger in my faith. Help me embrace annoyances during this human experience and to be pleased. For I am a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

Be joyful and less annoyed!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2‭-‬3 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

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

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!

You are enough.

Let me take some time this Saturday morning to remind you that you are enough. You are precious to your Father in heaven. His love for you stretches as far as the east is from the west. There is absolutely nothing you could do or say to make Him love you more or less than He does right now!

He sees you and He has designed everything about you in His image. You are uniquely and wonderfully made, no mistakes. Your outward appearance and inward personality is a reflection of His beauty and goodness. You take His breath away. Quite literally, He breathed very life into your frame!

He chose you to serve Him during this time in history. What you do with the life He gave you matters to Him. You are part of the biggest love story known to man. You are extraordinarily part of His story. And you have what it takes to serve Him mightily!

You are strong, mentally and physically. Your Father’s strength fills you up. You do not face the trials of this world alone. He is mighty to save and you can rise above any challenge with Him as your guide!

God keeps every promise. He will never let you down. He will never give up on you. He will never turn His back on you. He is faithful, honest, and true. Every time. You can rely on Him!

You have His approval. Because of His precious Son, Jesus, you stand blameless in His sight. You are forgiven. Cherished. And you have eternal life. Now. And forever.

You are enough. Because He is everything!

Be joyful this weekend!