Monday, September 3, 2018

Memories & Lessons


It's been a while.  I just noticed I haven't been to the neighborhood since April.
The last time I was here I wrote my post and scheduled it to go live on May 1st,
I had no idea my life would change that very weekend.

You see, on April 29 I lost a very close friend.
I would even venture to say she was my BFF.
However, she was the type of person who had many BFF's because
that's the way she made everyone feel when they were around her.
Johanna loved people and she made it a point to cherish
everyone in her life.



That was her one little word for 2018, "cherish".
She said, "In 2018 I want to focus on cherishing my family and my friends."

If you've followed me for a while, you might remember Johanna.
She and I took a road trip in 2016.
We drove to Waco, Texas to visit her daughter at Baylor University.
We made a short stop in New Orleans.
Wow!  I remember I almost told her I couldn't go with her.



It was the end of the school year and I was late that year 
organizing and closing my class for the summer.  
She was leaving that very weekend. 
It was my husband who encouraged me to go. 
He said, "This is your chance to see the Silos! 
Just fix your class when you get back." 
So, I went.  Soooooo, glad I did. 

I spoke to her two days before she went to heaven.
We had no clue, not even the slightest that would be
the last conversation we'd have.


There are some things I've known in theory
that are now all too real.

Tomorrow is not promised to any of us,
all we have is right now.
We put things off saying,
we'll get to them tomorrow. (Sigh)
We worry about things, 
sometimes small things that appear monstrous 
and in the end do not mean as much as we think they do. 
We are so connected to each other that when one of us is gone,
the world changes.


I've also learned that God is the author of our story.
He uses our choices, our circumstances and our experiences to unfold the plot.
And, in the end, the most valuable detail of our life is not what we did,
or accomplished, but rather, how well we loved people.
How well we showed Jesus to others.

Johanna passed both tests well.
We all saw Jesus in her and through her,
and she loved her God, her family, and friends intentionally.


I don't know why she didn't have more time with us.
I don't have the answer.
I've stopped asking.
All I know is this, we have but one life to live,
let's live it loving others well.
Everything else is secondary.

This is her legacy.

Adios, Johanna,
mi amiga.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Peace-Thief


Hello There!  I hope you're all doing well.  It's almost incomprehensible to think May 2018 is already here.  Hello?  I don't know, but time seems to be whipping by and I for one wish it would slow down a little.  It feels as if we're all on a reality TV show fast-forwarded, right?


Anyways, in my 2018 "to read" stash I collected in January, I picked up Uninvited by Lysa TyerKeurst.  In part of the book, she reflects on the story in 1 Samuel about the two wives of Elkanah, Hannah and Peninnah.  I hadn't visited this story in a while and was happy to read it again.  The next day, I heard a radio speaker speaking on the same passage.  Later that week, I opened my Bible to the very same passage.  Three times?



In summary, Elkanah was an Ephraimite with two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.   Peninnah was fertile and had borne him many children.  Hannah was barren and very ashamed and disappointed by it.  Yet, Elkanah, seemingly, loved Hannah more. He showed this by giving her double portions of meat while only giving Peninnah and her children one portion.  Here is the thing, both women were blessed, Peninnah had children, Hannah had her husband's devotion.

But, each woman wanted what the other had. 

Every day, all day long, everywhere we go,
we are hit with images, messages, and ideas that feed our appetites for what we don't have.

If we're not careful these messages can consume our thoughts and further convince us that we have been disenfranchised, dismissed and disregarded.   "Why can't we have what we believe is our right to have?"  Before long, disappointment and discouragement creep in.  Just like Peninnah and Hannah our "want" can become so magnified that we will be blinded to what we have already been blessed with. And, this, my friends, might be a thief of peace and contentment. 



Let me make a disclaimer here, I don't think our "desires" are necessarily bad as long as our desires line up with God's.  And, as long as our desires don't overcome our thoughts to the degree that they shadow what God has already done in order to attain what we see Him doing in someone else's story. 

I was on line to pay my groceries the other day and in front of me there was a young mom with her what looked like 5 or 6 year-old.  He was very upset because he wanted a candy from the candy stand next to the cashier.  (Thank you supermarkets for doing this to us moms.)   Mom had a cart filled with food which obviously was for him, but he could not appreciate it because he wanted the candy.  This mom was a rock star.  She didn't scream at him, she didn't get embarrassed, she didn't make a bigger scene than the one her son was making, she just stood on her decision.  She left calmly after paying, and as the little boy saw that his mom did not budge, he finally settled and they went on their way.  Sometimes, we can become embarrasingly like this little boy, God has a grocery cart filled with what we actually need, but we are crying for the chocolate bar that we cannot have.  

Peninnah went even further than making a scene, she used the blessing God gave her as an advantage to mock Hannah's apparent inabilities.  This is where Peninnah blew it.  Her children were a blessing from the Lord, she didn't need to hide that, but she flaunted her blessing before Hannah in order to cause her pain.  Hurt people, hurt people.  Perhaps this behavior appeased Peninnah's own feelings of rejection inflicted by her husband's lack of affection.  Hannah could have easily milked her husband's attention to the same in return.  Could you imagine their social media accounts?  But, she didn't.



Lysa mentions in her book, that we sometimes try to get our needs met outside of the will of God and this sometimes is what gets us into deeper trouble and/or delays the fulfillment of His plan in our lives.  Peninnah's actions most probably inadvertently provoked her husband to draw even farther away from her., further disappointing her.  How many times have we reacted the wrong way ushering in the very results we were trying to avoid?

Hannah responded to this craziness by pouring her heart out before the Lord.  Eli, the prophet, was at the doorpost of the Lord's house, he heard sobs and looked to see a woman crying out.  He watched as she wept bitterly, her lips were moving but no voice was heard. Eli was convinced she was drunk or perhaps even looney. He reprimands her and tells her to put her wine away.

Friends, family, social media, television, none of these sources can really do anything about our situation.  They can listen, they can form opinions, they can offer incomplete solutions, but the only One that has the true and effective remedy for our pain is Christ.  The Lord may lead us to speak to a specific person, nonetheless, we need to go to Him first and allow Him to lead our healing journey.  

Hannah corrects the prophet confirming that she, in fact, was not drunk, she was a woman who was deeply troubled.  She said, "I'm not a wicked woman, I'm here praying out of my great anguish and grief."  Eli, in turn, doesn't really ask what grieved her so, he may not have even been that concerned.  But, he calms her with this word:

"Go in peace.  And may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him"
1 Samuel 1:17


He may not have thought much of what He said, but Hannah's spirit grabbed onto his words as a promise from God Himself. These words became the turning point that would change her life, her attitude and planted hope in her spirit.  Did Peninnah stop bullying her?  Probably not.  Did she have a baby the next day?  No.  But, she had a promise from the Lord and she believed it and she would wait and stand on it until it happened.  

I don't know what you are asking the Lord for as you visit with me today, but I can tell you this, I'm with you, I have some needs before the Lord.  And, I too, have a choice to make.  Will I look at the blessings of others and convince my self that God has not done enough for me?  Or will I go to God first, pour out my heart, and allow Him to heal me and breathe a promise of His plan to bring me joy even as I wait? 

LESSONS LEARNED

Desire what He has for me, not what someone else has.
Go to Him first to get what I need.
Know, He has remembered me, He has not forgotten.
And, He will answer my prayers "in the course of time." (v.20)

Believe, Trust, Wait & Stand

Sunday, December 31, 2017

OLW 2018

The time has come, in a flash, I might add, 
to say farewell to another year.  
I'm sure 2017 will be a memorable one, for all of us.  
I feel as if it began quietly and ended in a roar.  
So many events, so many tears, so many . . .   

 There's a saying that I've heard quite often:
"I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future."  
These words are not just cliche anymore.  If there was ever a time in our generation to hold onto the One that holds the future, now is one of them.  

I heard of the One Little Word thing back in 2014.  
Here's a little description from Ali Edwards, one of the first to start the movement:



Here are some of the words I've had in the past:


I chose this word in 2014 after watching the video Mulan with my daughter during Christmas time.  In the plot, Mulan disguises herself as a boy in order to fight in the armed forces.  Had she not, her elderly father would have had to.  

While on the battlefield, she had to intentionally maintain an alert and strategic position to keep herself safe from the enemies.  That strategy resonated with me that year.  My position in Christ and my position in all the roles He has entrusted me with must be carried out with intention.  As I maintain my position, the Lord is able to carry out His mission in my family and me.


In 2015, I chose the word "release".  This was the year my husband and I became empty nesters.  My adult children moved out of the house, cross-country.  This was life-changing for me.  In all honesty, I never imagined my kids would move away, yet alone, cross-country.  So, my charge that year was to let them go, release them, and to begin the process of identifying myself as the mom of adult children.  


In 2016, I chose the word "re-joice", reminding myself that Joy is with me always.  
I reminded myself that year that real joy does not come from circumstances or possessions or even experiences.  These external sources of joy are like ibuprofen.  They take care of discomfort for a few hours, but when they wear off you're back where you started.  The joy that comes from the Lord is more like surgery.  It goes right to the place that causes discomfort and brings healing and restoration.  


Last year, 2017, my word was "JUST PRAY".  So, that is what I did.  I prayed.  I kept a prayer journal/planner.  And, each week I wrote out my prayers.  I poured out my heart before the Lord.  These moments were sweet and comforting and helped me make it through some very difficult moments.

These last few weeks I've been contemplating on my OLW for 2018.   I stumbled upon a phrase and it jumped out at me, "practice resurrection".  Looking it up in the internet, I found that Eugene Paterson has written a book called, "Practice Resurrection: A Conversation On Growing Up in Christ".  I have not read it yet, but it is an assignment I have given myself for 2018.  The word "arise" seems to correspond with the idea of "practicing resurrection".  So, this is going to be my 2018 OLW.       



Every day comes with its challenges, it's unexpected surprises and hardships.  
If we're not careful to intentionally live according to His word we can easily allow circumstances to strip life away from us; the life God intended for us to have, the life He wants to give us, a life filled with Him.  When I find myself slipping away, heading towards worry and anxiety or even fear, my OLW  "arise" will remind me to practice resurrection.  Christ resurrected so that I too may have an abundant life,  
a life anchored in Him and nothing else.


Friday, June 16, 2017

DIY Washi Holder


I love art journaling, and faith journaling, and faith planning, all of it, 
but it can certainly eat into the rainy day bank. 

One supply I've wanted to purchase is the giant ring to hold washi tape.  I've seen them on Instagram and they look super cool.  However, not only haven't I found one, but I'd also rather save my pennies for acrylic stamps.  (I think I might be a stamp addict, just ask Mr. Class In Session.)

So, it came to me, you know, the light bulb shining over my head...  
"A hanger might work!" 

So, this is what I did and it took all but 2 minutes and $0.00.


I "borrowed" a hanger from my husband's closet.  You know, the one that has two hooks that hold a cardboard tube. I don't use them, but he likes them.  
(Go figure-) 


I removed the little cardboard tube.


As you can see, the two hooks are pretty sturdy and hook easily together.


Then, I just threaded the washi through the hanger sides...,  and "voila"! 


It easily hangs on knobs or hooks.


I even made one for my ribbon spools.


I may spray paint the hanger to match my office at a later time.  
For now, they are working fine and it didn't cost me a cent!  

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Storm



Mark 4

Jesus and the disciples had been ministering all day,  and they were tired.
Jesus instructed the guys to get on the boat, 
they were going to the other side. (v. 35)

Getting to the other side is not as simple as just saying, "Ok, let's go."  
Getting to the other side may require certain skills, necessary maturing, perhaps even knowledge that can only be acquired by way of a storm.  

Only God knows what lies on the other side.  

"A furious squall came up, 
and the waves broke over the boat 
so that it was nearly swamped." (vs. 37)  

Here's the thing about storms, 
they brew invisibly,  
pop up unexpectedly, 
and threaten to overtake quickly.    

The perfect setting for an invasion of fear!

These fishermen probably had seen their share of storms, don't you think?
However, this one seems to have been quite the storm for they were afraid they were not going to make it this time.

Just like the fishermen, storms are bad no matter how many you've been through.  And, honestly, each feels worse than the one before.  Sometimes, you've just been through so many storms you wonder if you even have the strength to make it through another.

Where was Jesus all this time?  
Wasn't He in the boat with them?

 "Jesus, where are You?"

"Why would You ask us to get on the boat if You knew about the storm?"  

We can be doing exactly what we were called to do,
doing the will of the Father,
yet be smack in the middle of a storm, 
second guessing whether we heard God right.

"Did He really ask us to board this boat?"

He was in the stern.
SLEEPING.

Was He tired?  Oh, yes. 
He had been ministering all day long.  

But, didn't He hear the rumbles of the storm?  
Wow!  He can sleep through anything.  

Fear works like a load full of caffeine.  

The disciples were tired, too, but they couldn't sleep,
afraid of the storm raging around them,
afraid the water was coming into the boat,
afraid they were all going to die.

Jesus, however, knew the storms were subject to Him, 
He wasn't subject to the storm.  
Jesus knew the storms weren't taking anyone out that day; 
it wasn't the time.  
He also knew this storm was strengthening their faith 
and their knowledge of Him, skills they would need on the other side.

You see, Jesus knows things we don't.  

Well, you know how the story goes?  
Freaking out, the disciples find Jesus, 
wake Him up, and desperately 
"fill Him in" about the raging storm.  

Have you ever seen a boat full of frightened fishermen?
Must be a sight for sore eyes, and a sound for sore ears.

Jesus wakes up and rebukes the sea and the disciples!  

"DO YOU STILL HAVE NO FAITH?" 

Who is this man that even the winds and waves obey Him? (v. 41)


On another occasion, when Simon Peter's faith is tried and tested in another storm, this time no water involved, but the fear of death was similarly
all too real.  

Jesus encourages Him and says, 
". . . I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail"

You see, sometimes it's not that we don't have faith, it's just that we have allowed the storms to wash away the little faith we had.  We resolve in our hearts, this time the storm is just too strong, and we surrender, 
wave the white flag. "We're done!"

Just like Jesus prayed for Simon Peter's faith to remain strong in the midst of the struggle, He prays for us, "May her faith not fail."  Luke 22:32

 
Father,

When the storm subsides and the winds fade, 
when You assess the damages, even through the debris,
may You find us, and our families,
 faithful! 

Remind us there is a purpose for the storm.
We don't understand or necessarily care for it on this side, 
but may our faith be anchored in tightly,
believing that it will all be worth it on the other side of the storm.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

When Anxiety Lingers . . .


Stomach's tingling,
Head's fogging,
Energies are dwindling,

Why?

Anxiety just knocked on the door, again.

Anxiety is an unwelcome visitor,
like the one who comes and doesn't want to leave . . .
The visitor that comes up with a variety of creative and logical 
reasons why they must stay a little while longer.
A little while longer can add up to weeks, months, even years ~
All we did was open the door, a little, and Anxiety was home.

Anxiety invades our space and situations,
It insists on controlling our decision making,
It reminds us of all the things that can go wrong,
It tries to define us, to tell us who we are.
And, persuades us to believe the worse.

"You can't do this!"
"You don't have the skills!"
"You already failed."
"The worse is going to happen!"
"It's all over."

Anxiety's boss is FEAR.
Fear's job is to keep us in our corner.
Paralyzed.
And, as long as we comply, 
FEAR leaves us alone.

The moment we decide to
move, or imagine, or consider a way out,
FEAR sends its minion, Anxiety,
to keep us in our place.

Philippians 4:6-8 
is one of my life verses. Recently, I was inspired to take a look at it again, 
consider the message and grab onto it for dear life.

Here's what it's saying to me, 
and hopefully to you:

Is anything impossible for God?
Is anxiety's arm longer than His?
Our Father is a good One!
And, He has not forgotten His promises!

Even while we're in Fear's corner,
Even while paralyzed,
Even when nothing is changing,
He whispers, 
"I AM going to get you out of this!"
 And, when I do, you will be able to say, 
'Look what the Lord has done!'"

Even then,
He begins to deposit a NEW PLAN!
His plan, in all probability,  
may look differently than what we imagined,
but it will be far better because He planned it, 
not us.

When do the words of a book change the author's purpose, 
or the lyrics of a song change the songwriter's vision?
God is the author and the finisher!


This is what the LORD says!

EARNESTLY,
for everything.

and the 
OF GOD
which 
cannot be explained or understood 
or even reasoned away,
will come to the
RESCUE!

It will also GUARD 
our hearts and our minds
from Anxiety's and Fear's influence and persuasion.

GOD IS OUR SUPER HERO!
in the name of 
JESUS CHRIST, OUR LORD!


Anxiety doesn't have the last word, God does.
God's an expert at building highways 
even in places where there is no way.
God's got this.
 Even when we don't see anything happening, 
or hear anything, He's still working.  

This is a FAITH walk, and the good news is, we don't need much.  All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed to move God's plan into action.  
Before we see changes in our circumstances, there must be a transformation in our hearts. We must return to those times when God was first before anything and everything ~

. . . return to the time when we sought Him with all of our hearts and asked Him to invade our lives, our circumstances, our wills, 
we kept knocking on the door of His heart,  relentlessly,
until God moved!  


And, if by His sovereignty, our circumstances don't change,
Anxiety will finally be evicted and Peace will be home.


Memories & Lessons

It's been a while.  I just noticed I haven't been to the neighborhood since April. The last time I was here I wrote my post and ...