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Sometimes life is hard. In fact, I have to admit that sometimes I am not a big fan of being an adult. This is a scene from the TV show Will & Grace, and as I read it, I admit I am reading it in Jack’s voice because I know it well.

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Things happen to us in life that are both in and out of our control. Some of those things are easy and good, some are hard and good, some are easy and terrible and some are hard and terrible. It is all the product of the fact that we live in a fallen world, a world where sin and evil abounds.

Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.

And we can’t explain any of it in a way that makes sense to our rational minds.

But it is what happens in the midst of life that keeps us pressing forward: unexpected words of encouragement in a time of deep discouragement; a surprise check in the mail that you weren’t counting on; spending time praying a particular scripture one night and the next day getting a text from a friend who was praying that same scripture over you; finding out that at a particular moment in time that you were dealing with something hard, a friend was woken with you on their heart to pray; having someone verbalize exactly what you were feeling in your heart before you even had a chance.

These moments that seem like coincidences are what I call God-incidences. Because God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. And sometimes that comes in a form that doesn’t look exactly the way we think it should. It may hurt. It may suck. It may be completely unexpected. But He knows what is best and He knows just what we need to move through each phase of our lives.

Even when “it’s very hard.”

Last week I was watching the GAC Top 20 Countdown and heard a new song. They don’t play it on Country radio. It is a new song by some old friends, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

WAIT! Don’t tune out!

I have always loved those two. They make beautiful music.

But this song stopped me in my tracks and made me weep.

And it did it because it is true.

We can make new friends every day, and that is a wonderful gift.

But those old friends that know us intimately we can’t make again.

It is true. It is beautiful. It is moving. It wrecked my heart.

And it made me realize that I need to make sure that my old friends know just how important they are to me.

I love you all – you know who you are. I am so grateful for you and the place that you have in my life.

Take the time to tell your friends what they mean to you.

Because “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”

(Warning – stepping up on a soap box. 🙂 )

When did it happen?

When did we start thinking that in order to give something, we must get something in return?

When did generosity turn into entitlement?

When did church become a place for the consumer mentality rather than one of giving all we have in worship to the King?

Something in our culture has changed us. And it isn’t for the better.

Instead of giving to the work of the Lord out of obedience, people have decided to give to the church (or any organization) based on what that church (or organization) gives to them.

Is the childcare good? Is the coffee free? Does the pastor preach sermons that make me feel good? Does the music move me?

If the answer is “yes,” then I will give, if not, then I will keep my money for myself.

After all church is about what I can get out of it, right?

Wrong.

When we come to worship, we should be coming ready to give everything we have and everything we are to the God who saved us. He has given us more than we deserve. He has saved us from death and brought us life. He is the reason that we live. He has given us homes, families, food, jobs, and so much more. Nothing that we have is of our own making. This God of the universe loves us so much that He couldn’t stand to be separated from us. He sent His Son as a way to bridge the gap that the fall of Adam and Eve created.

Yes, churches are run by people, and yes, sometimes we don’t like decisions that people make, but that is not why we do or don’t give.

We give to the work of the Lord, as a token of our thanksgiving and joy for the life that we have been given.

It doesn’t matter if we don’t like the way the nursery is run.

It doesn’t matter if we think we give enough that we should get a free cup of coffee.

It doesn’t matter if your toes hurt after Sunday’s sermon.

It doesn’t matter if the music isn’t to your liking.

All that matters is you are alive because of the love of God and He says the appropriate response to Him is to give ALL of yourself – time, talents, and money – to His work in this world.

Giving generously is a right of the Kingdom. Free coffee is not.

(Stepping down.)

This past weekend I had the honor of being part of the first event of The Shine Movement:

Every girl wants to shine. Little girls dream of singing, dancing, acting, or modeling. However, the world’s definition of shining can often lead to heartbreak, chaos, and broken lives. The stories of most Hollywood child stars demonstrate that.

The Shine Movement hopes to assist young girls with their dreams of shining by teaching them about inner beauty, purity, godliness, modesty, and confidence. The main avenue of teaching will be through a two-day conference.

It was a fabulous weekend of being able to speak TRUTH into the lives of these young girls. They got to SHINE as they danced, worshiped, learned, and created.

If you want to bring The Shine Movement to your community, visit their website to contact the leaders of the movement.

We want to spread the message that each of us is created uniquely to shine the light of God in all that we do!

Here is one of the songs we featured over the weekend. Enjoy and spread the word. You are worth more than Gold!

Britt Nicole – Gold (Official Music Video) from britt-nicole on GodTube.

It’s an older song, one that I learned well when a new to the scene artist, Francesca Battistelli, came to our church to do a concert a number of years back.

It’s not a new idea, but one we need to be reminded of – sometimes hourly.

The tighter we hold to something, the more important it is for us to learn to let go of it completely.

It’s the idea of holding loosely that we need to get through our heads.

Our plans, our ideas of how life should look, our thoughts of the future – those are things that are not for us to decide on our own.

The Lord has in mind what is best for us. We can let go of our plans and listen, or we can hold on to our plans and be unhappy and outside of God’s perfect plan for our lives.

Sometimes we hold on tightly because we are just sure that God wants things to play out in a way that we see them playing out. Sometimes we hold on tightly because we know we are supposed to go in a different direction but that direction is scary and unknown. Sometimes we hold on tightly because we don’t know what else to hold on to.

But we have to let go. We have to allow God to work in His time and in His way.

And letting go is hard. There may need to be a time of grieving as you let go. There may be sadness as you give up that “thing” of which you were so sure. There may be fear as you fall into the unknown.

But that is okay, because He is there to catch you, wipe your tears, and lead you.

He is the only thing you need to hold on to. Because He is the only thing that is constant.

 

 

I’m Letting GoFrancesca Battistelli

My heart beats, standing on the edge
But my feet have finally left the ledge

Like an acrobat
There’s no turning back

(Chorus)
I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams
I’m losing control
Of my destiny
It feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
So I’m letting go

This is a giant leap of faith
Trusting and trying to embrace

The fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone

(Chorus)

Giving in to your gravity
Knowing You are holding me
I’m not afraid

(Chorus)

Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
Feels like I’m falling and this is the life for me

Every day we have so much for which to be thankful.

We woke up – we are alive another day!

We have food.

We have water.

We have shelter.

We have family.

We have friends.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

When you really start thinking about all the reasons you have to be thankful, and digging deep, it can be overwhelming and life-changing. Looking at our lives through the lens of thanksgiving changes our perspective.

And since my recovery has hit a brick wall this weekend and this morning, I need a change in perspective today. So here goes.

  • I am thankful for my husband, who has been the most patient and thoughtful caregiver over the last three weeks (and longer). He has brought me anything I needed. He has been patient with me as my recovery has taken longer than anticipated. He has run kids all over the place. He has allowed himself to be inconvenienced. And not once have I heard him complain.
  • I am thankful for my daughter, who has been quick to “take care” of mom over the last few weeks. From bringing me a glass of water or cup of hot tea, to cleaning bathrooms and floors, she has been a blessing.
  • I am thankful for my son, who, despite his need to constantly be in motion, has taken time to sit with me on the couch and just snuggle.
  • I am thankful for my friends who have helped with food, picking up kids, prayers, and words of encouragement during this time.
  • I am thankful for the hope that comes with faith in Christ. Even when I am down, I know that He is near and that He is at work in my body. He is my rock and my fortress. In Him I trust.

Take a few moments today and think specifically about the things you are most thankful for today. Believe me, it will change how you view your day.

 

In case you have had your head in a whole in the ground and aren’t aware, November starts in two days.

For the last couple of years, I have done some kind of Thanksgiving Challenge both for myself and on my blog.

This year is no different.

Here is the challenge that begins on Friday, November 1:

Instead of finding random things to be thankful for each day, how about finding something about each person in your family to be thankful for each day. For us, I am thinking that our wall of thanks will look a little different this year and we will put notes of thankfulness either in quadrants on the one door that we used last year, or put those notes specifically on the door to the room that each person sleeps in. That way, there is a reminder each time they enter their room that the rest of us are thankful for them and here are some reasons why.

Is this going to be harder than in years past? Absolutely!

But it will really make us look hard at one another and the things that make them who they are and why we are thankful that they are a part of our family.

Are you up for it? Let me know in the comments and let’s practice being thankful for those that we live with!!!!

During the time that I have been down, I have tried to keep busy as I can. One of the ways that I do that is by making things.

I love to knit and crochet, and if you have read my blog for very long you know that my vision is to make knitted/crocheted gifts that have been saturated in prayer and then given to those for which I have prayed. In order to fund this gift-giving ministry, I make some projects to sell. Each item that I knit/crochet is done with quality materials, workmanship, and prayer. It is my hope that the recipient is not only comforted as they snuggle up with an afghan or cover up with a shawl, but their lives are also touched by prayer.

This week I realized that I should “beef up” what I offer for sale in my Etsy shop so I started practicing on some different types of items. Typically I have just listed afghans there, but I decided to try some different scarves and hats this week as well.

My kids get them because they are practice items and not up to the quality I want to sell.  Here are a few of the things I have made this week:

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I am planning to make some more of these types of items to put in the shop so that I can fund the gift-giving portion of my ministry. I will also do custom work, so if you are looking for a handmade gift for someone, or just something for yourself, feel free to ask!

If nothing else, doing something new this week has helped me keep my mind off of how I feel and onto something new and good!

Feel free to share this post with others and spread the word about this ministry that the Lord has me doing!

A week ago today I had surgery. I expected I would be back at work by today. But I am not. Instead I find myself waiting impatiently for the time to pass so I can take another pain pill.

It sure seems like for me, illness and surgery are kind of like home plumbing projects – they never quite turn out the way you think they will at the start and there are detours along the way.

I didn’t anticipate that recovery would take longer than the weekend, much less longer than a week. I didn’t anticipate the emotional toll of spending a week in my recliner. I didn’t anticipate fighting depression as well as fighting to recover from surgery.

So as I sit here this morning, I am meditating on these words:

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (from Isaiah 40, Italics Mine)

I am holding on to these words today. He will give me strength in my weakness. He will renew my strength as I put my hope and trust in Him.

And that is all I need today.

That, and another pain pill. 🙂

I don’t have much to say today as I am still quite foggy as I recover from sinus surgery last week, but one thing I am very familiar with is the early morning hours. I have seen more of 2:30 a.m. in the last five days than I have since college and having babies. But there is one thing that has kept me calm and helped me get back to sleep in those moments of high pain, my all-time favorite album for calming me down, A Warm Shade of Ivory by Henry Mancini.Henry_Mancini-A_Warm_Shade_Of_Ivory-FrontalHenry_Mancini-A_Warm_Shade_Of_Ivory-Trasera

I have it on vinyl (or rather, my mother had it on vinyl and it is now mine), but I also purchased it on CD so that it is on my iPad and I have played it over and over these last few days. My favorite song is Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet and that was the processional in my wedding, but the first song on the album has become my “cue” to relax. So for those of you in a stress-filled Monday, take a cue from this, listen and relax.

Oh, the things you learn as a Daughter of the King, if only you listen.

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