Retail Therapy…

After my father passed away, my mom taught me an important part of the grieving process: retail therapy. Often, when we felt a little blue, we would head to the mall and shop the day away. And still to this very day, one of my favorite things to do is shop with my mom. Now please, before you start judging, know that I am very aware that shopping is not a healthy coping mechanism; however, some of those trips to the mall sure did get our minds off of the grief and allowed us to enjoy time together.

During the last few weeks, my husband and I have been weathering a storm. It has been pretty intense and we have felt a bit bruised and battered. So, I had to giggle when he took the day off last Friday and told me we were going to get some retail therapy. We headed to the mall in Houston, putzed, talked, laughed and even found a good deal on luggage! The day ended with a delicious dinner with a beautiful view at a new restaurant. It felt simply luxurious and reminded me how very thankful I am to be navigating life with him.

Honestly, there just may be something to this idea of retail therapy. Not in the buying; but in the change of location, head space and pace. The focus of the day became something completely different, shifting the storm clouds out and allowing the sunshine to pour down. The result? Well, I felt thankful, relaxed, renewed and ready to battle some more knowing that I am not alone!

Christ does all of this for us and more. Are you battling a storm? Do you feel overwhelmed and alone? Jesus is the best therapy out there! Spending some time with Him, putzing, talking and laughing will change your mindset and lighten your load. In fact, when we try and navigate storms without Him, we will not succeed. Just like Peter, we must keep our eyes on Jesus in order to get out of the boat and navigate the deep waters of this life. Jesus provides a safe haven for us and He renews, restores and refreshes our souls, especially during the storms! Who knows, He might even lead you to that good deal on luggage. 😉

I encourage you to take time to remember whose you are in the midst of the storm. Allow Jesus to equip you, lead you and tend to all of your needs. During every season of life. And be reminded that you are never alone in the battle!

Be hopeful!

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Matthew 14:27‭-‬33 NLT

Grandpa…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandpa Hart lately. I loved him and was blessed to live close to him when I was little. I had him in my life for just over six years before Jesus called him home. When I think of him, it takes me back to times of innocence and love.

I would often “babysit” him. We would go on walks in his neighborhood and he would wait patiently while I made him elaborate pretend snacks. (By waiting patiently, I mean dozing in front of the television in the day room.) He was tall and strong and he loved me. I vividly remember the nuances of my grandparents home in Ft. Myers. It was truly a place that I looked forward to visiting. What I would give to hang out with him again right now, basking in the innocence of “babysitting” him instead of the other way around.

The song, When I Get Where I’m Going by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton always makes me think of him. “I’m going to walk with my grand daddy and he’ll match me step for step. And I’ll tell him how I missed him every minute since he left and then I’ll hug his neck. When I get where I’m going. There’ll be only happy tears. I’ll shed the sins and struggles I have carried all these years. And I’ll leave my heart wide open. I will love and have no fear. When I get where I’m going, don’t cry for me down here.”

We have so much hope in Christ. We have the hope of being reunited with loved ones for eternity. We have the hope of shedding the pain and suffering that are a part of this very temporary human experience. Our hearts, souls and minds will be healed. In fact, we will share the very mind of Christ. And we will bask daily in the warmth of His Son and God’s very face will permeate and radiate. It will be an eternal time of innocence and perfect love.

My Grandpa is experiencing all of these things and so much more as I write these very words. Boy, I can’t wait to get where I’m going!

Be hopeful!

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19‭-‬20 NLT

Focus…

I really struggled with something last week. It had me completely distracted, challenged my understanding, shifted my mood and consumed my thoughts. It really wasn’t anything big; just a slight disappointment, merely a hiccup in the grand scheme of life. Yet, here I am putting fingers to keyboard writing about it. Why? Because what I realized is that I allowed it to shift my focus, which allowed it to change how I felt on the inside, within my spirit. And in the midst of the disappointment, I found myself struggling to extend grace and forgiveness.

Yes, we all make mistakes. We are all fallible. We fumble through relationships, stumble through life and leave a mountain of missed opportunities, hurts and misunderstandings. We let each other down. We are not perfect. But, why is it so difficult sometimes to extend grace to others, especially in full knowledge of our own imperfections?

And then I realized that it is completely about focus. If I am honest, my focus last week was on myself and with that came a laundry list of unnecessary thoughts and wasted energy. To borrow a little ditty from Lauren Daigle, ‘Look up child”!

Where is your focus this Monday of Holy Week? Are you watching Jesus? Are you trying to view the world through His gracious eyes? Are you diligently seeking God’s own heart? Or are you trying to seek understanding in this crazy world with your own heart and your own mind?

Our focus changes everything. When we bow our knee to our Mighty Father and allow Him to reign in our lives, our focus becomes tainted by love, peace, forgiveness, and grace. We begin to see a change in ourselves and the best in those around us. And before you know it, you feel your soul lighten and your spirit lift in response to Him.

I encourage you to allow God to search your heart this week and create a new and right spirit within you. I can’t think of a better time to do it! Y’all, Jesus conquered the cross so that we could do just that! He rose on Easter morning so that we might live, live well and treat those around us well too!

Focus on Him and be hopeful!

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23‭-‬24 NIV

Chicken Pox…

My brother was 5 years old when he got the chicken pox. He had a very mild case and I watched as family members brought gifts and my mom catered to his every need. In fact, my Aunt Mary brought him the coolest cactus plant, it was in a small clay pot. I really, really wanted my own cactus.

Shortly after, I woke up with a bump next to my eye and presented myself to my mom. Yep, she confirmed it was a pox and in a wink of an eye, I was back in front of her in my pajamas, with my blankee and my beloved stuffed rabbit, Bobbi ready to be pampered just like my brother.

I did not have a mild case of chicken pox. I was one sick little girl and I still have the scar from that first pox that appeared dangerously close to my right eye to this very day.

Scars are interesting things, aren’t they? A scar is a mark left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn, or sore has not healed completely and fibrous connective tissue has developed. A scar inevitably tells the story of a deep wound and is a visual reminder of that hurt.

We all have scars, don’t we? Some of those scars we carry in our souls and often are inflicted by people that we know and even love. Some scars may even be a result of choices that we’ve made or pain we have inflicted on ourselves.

Jesus has scars too. His scars are the result of the most enormous love we have ever known. He bears those scars on his hands, feet and side, a constant reminder of the price of our sin and the enormity of His grace. You see, there is beauty in your scars because of Jesus.

Do you have wounds that need healing? Let Jesus’ in and let Him heal. As I was reminded this week by teacher, Christine Cain, “what you don’t reveal, God can’t heal.” Jesus’ love leaves a mark and His mark has the power to fully save and fully redeem.

You should know that my Aunt Mary brought me a cactus too, in its own small clay pot. There is always joy after pain! You see, Jesus conquered it all for us. We can trust in His scars. And we can see our scars as a reminder of His strength and His healing. Our scars become part of the fabric of His redemptive story and they can shine His hope to those in pain around us!

Be hopeful!

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home. Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise. Psalm 51:7‭-‬15 MSG

Wash Some Feet…

The Bible lesson for our Wednesday night children’s program was on Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. I decided the best way to teach this lesson was to demonstrate it. So, I washed the feet of some of the crew leaders, while talking to the kiddos about this powerful lesson from Jesus.

Jesus, in His perfection, humbled himself and took the role of a servant. He washed the feet of the disciples, who that very night argued about who amongst them would be greatest in heaven. He demonstrated greatness, when he unwrapped the cloth from his waist, grabbed the basin and knelt down before the disciples. Do you want to be great? Wash some feet.

Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet that night, including Judas. Yes, the disciple who would trade him later that night for coins in complete betrayal had his feet washed by our Savior. Has someone betrayed you? Wash some feet.

Jesus washed Peter’s feet too, even as he argued with Jesus, not realizing the beautiful symbolism of the moment. The disciple who would deny him three times before the rooster crowed that next morning felt the gentle hands of His Savior on his feet. Has someone denied you? Wash some feet.

Jesus has called us to be His servants. He gave us the perfect example during his time as a man on earth. The question is whether you are willing to humble yourself, kneel down and gracefully serve those around you: regardless of the task; regardless of the risk; and regardless of whether it is deserved.

Let’s wash some feet folks!

Be hopeful!

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13:12‭-‬17 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!