Hummingbirds…

“Why can’t my hummingbirds just get along?” My friend posted this on facebook today and it made me giggle. I, too, have delighted in watching the battle of the hummingbirds in my own back yard, as they chase each other away from the feeders.

Between my house and my neighbors, the hummingbirds are privvy to at least five feeders; yet, every day the chase is on like donkey kong. Fascinating, isn’t it? Instead of enjoying the abundance of sugary sweetness around them, they spend most of their time fighting.

Isn’t that a picture of us? I imagine God looking down on us pondering the same question, “why can’t my children just get along?” He watches as we chase each other, coveting each others’ possessions, allowing jealousy and comparison to cloud our hearts. He watches as we desperately try to keep up with proverbial Jones’, instead of finding satisfaction in our own last name. He watches as we think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, instead of savoring the sweetness of the grass in our own back yard.

And because He knew that we would struggle, fight, covet and compare, He sent the sweetest gift of all to us: His Son, Jesus; in hopes that we would stop chasing each other and start chasing Him. He sent Jesus so that we would stop fighting and start loving Him. And others.

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:14‭-‬17 NIV)

Who are you chasing? I encourage you to savor the sweetness of God; cherish the abundance of His goodness in your life; and love those around you fiercely.

Be hopeful!

Give a dog a bone…

The angel dog and the stray dog Baby have two distinct approaches to bones. Baby takes the bone and immediately settles into chewing it, usually under the coffee table.

The angel dog does not. He lays with his bone in his mouth and watches Baby. And he waits. You see, Baby will eventually leave a part of her bone unattended and the angel dog will swoop in, taking her sloppy bone remnant quickly onto the couch. Angel dog will then chew that bone remnant as fast as he can, and go back to taunting Baby with his original bone.

Here is the irony in the story. When there is no more bone, Baby simply moves on to play with her toys. She is not concerned with angel dog in the slightest, nor does she covet his bone. Angel dog, on the contrary, is obsessed with Baby and will growl if Baby even moves in his direction, just to protect his treasure.

What is your approach to the treasures in your life? Are you like Baby, completely focused, enjoying the moment and savoring the goodness of the treasure filled with happiness and perfectly content? Or are you like my angel dog, hoarding up your treasure, coveting what others have, filled with jealousy and discontent?

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 MSG

Did you catch it? Our treasure is Jesus. And heaven is our home. We are to be so heavenly minded that simple treasures here on earth do not matter. Y’all, nothing compares to the Glory that is to come!

So, I say enjoy those bones when they are handed out, glorifying your Father in heaven. And then move on because the best bone is yet to come!

Be hopeful!

Just Do You, Boo…

I am going to be honest. I watch a television show called Married at First Sight. I find it fascinating. A team of experts put couples together based on interviews and assessments. The couples literally meet for the first time at their weddings. It is a modern twist on arranged marriages and I find the show wildly addictive.

On a recent episode, one of the newlyweds made this statement to her husband, “just do you, boo.” This is not the first time I have heard this particular comment. It seems to me that “doing you” and “speaking your own truth” are prominent schools of thought in today’s culture. And I know that in many circumstances these comments are not intended to be anything more than a mindless statement of support and encouragement. Sort of a verbal way of leveling the playing field. However, we are living in a culture of me, myself and I. And is it really okay to just “do you boo” even at the cost of someone else? And where does this “truth” you are speaking truly come from?

Jesus said to him, I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV).

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31‭-‬32 ESV

We are called to follow Christ’s example and he spoke truth in love. We can find absolute truth in the words of our Father written to us in His Word. Our truth comes from Him and His Word, not some watered down version of the truth that the world hands to us. And definitely not our own version of the truth. There is simply one way, one truth and one life.

I would say “do you boo”; if, and only if, that you is a reflection of the Father and is derived from obedience to His word and His calling for your life. You see, you are completely made new in your identity in Christ and you absolutely should be the you that Christ created you to be! He made you for a specific purpose, reason and season!

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:5‭-‬8 NIV)

Be hopeful!

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