I Saw God today…

The manager at the gym where I work has started placing my initials on a bottle of water each morning. So, when I arrive to teach, I find my very own bottle of water waiting for me in the cooler. She even takes the time to make my initials into bubble letters. It truly delights my heart because it is such a simple act of kindness.

It occurred to me that simple daily acts of kindness are a reflection of our Father. We could change our communities if we would seek to practice kindness towards those around us every day.

Our ability to be kind comes from our Father in heaven. He is love. He is good. And He is kind. His kindness extends to us every day. We just have to take the time to look for it. You see, the initials on the water bottle pointed to simple kindness, which pointed to God. I saw God today!

Every day, when our eyes open and our feet hit the ground, God has placed His initials all over us! His initials are carved in our breath, our blessings and our steps. We have the opportunity to point our hearts and minds to this incredible truth and delight in it!

So, today, look for an opportunity to practice a simple act of kindness. And do it with the full knowledge that God delights in your initials and in your obedience.

Be hopeful!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12 NIV

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

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

Choose the Right Protection…

When I was little, we visited a sports apparel store at the mall. Being of superior intelligence, I made my way immediately to a display of protective cups, grabbed a cup, placed it over my mouth and yelled, “look mom, I’m a doctor!” I was very proud of my discovery and didn’t understand when my mom quickly pulled me away from the display. I wasn’t the only gifted child. One of my favorite pictures of my brother from our childhood is him sitting on the toilet pretending to read the newspaper upside down. Yes, we were smart children and I am sure my parents were very proud.

I hope images from your own childhood are flashing through your mind right now. I would venture to say that we have all made some choices that left our parents truly wondering about our intelligence.

I wonder what God has thought about some of my choices? I wonder if He has ever wondered what happened to the brain that He placed in my pretty little head? I know that there have been plenty of times where He has nudged me away from that particular display in hopes to restore some dignity to my life.

I have been reminded recently that every day we are faced with a choice. We are either going to make decisions that honor God or we are going to make decisions that honor the world. And we all know who is being allowed to rule the world right now. And he is our enemy, and he seeks to kill and destroy us, one poor decision at a time.

Our only defense in this spiritual battle is to let God rule our hearts, our minds and our choices. We must stand for God and let the enemy know that we are sealed, restored, redeemed and liberated from this world, one God decision at a time.

Come on folks, let’s choose the right protection! 😉

Be hopeful!

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:6‭-‬10 MSG

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