Thursday, May 11, 2017

The True Bread

Two days in a row!!!  Crazy, huh?!  :)


I have started reading a book that one of my closest friends recommended:  Messy Beautiful Friendship.  I am on page 38 and I think it is one of the best books I have ever read.  This lady knows me.  I want to quote something she said in her book and show you how beautifully it tied in with my Bible study for today.

"When I am disappointed with my friendships and I take time to dig a little deeper in my heart, I inevitably find that I'm looking for my friends to relate to me as only God can.  I want God to give me good friends and when he has, I've been prone to shove him aside for the attention, wisdom, and companionship of those friends, despite knowing that they were intended as gifts rather than replacements.  People are not fillers for a present God, and God is not a placeholder for future friends." (Messy Beautiful Friendship, Christine Hoover, pg. 38)

She goes on to describe how God has the ability to love us differently that people do because He knows us much more intimately and He can handle the weight, complexity, and emotion of all that we are.  I love that.  So many times I feel as though I am too much for my friends to handle, and it is likely true.  But, I am not too much for God.  What a sweet thought.  What an encouraging thought.

Those were the words that I read as I fell asleep last night.  Then this morning, I woke up and did my Bible study.  I love how God orchestrates things we need to read/hear/ponder together so nicely.  He is gracious to us like that.  Today, my study was on John 6:22-42.  We are talking about the I AM statements that Jesus spoke.  When I got to verse 27, it stopped me in my tracks.  

"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." John 6:27 NKJV

I have been struggling in the area of friendship for about 3 years now.  I have really been trying to figure out how to be a friend, how to keep friends, what it means to be a friend, etc....but what God is saying right here is to stop worrying and working so hard for the things that won't last.  Yes, friendships are important but I FIRMLY believe that God will bring the right people into our lives to be our friends.  I don't understand why I work so hard trying to prove myself to others....always worried about whether or not something is going to make someone not be my friend anymore.  I read this verse and God whispered to me, "Seek me....the One that provides everlasting life.  I will provide for you.....even friends....friends that you can trust....friends that won't leave you.  Stop worrying about those that won't last, because they weren't meant to."  

In John 6:33, it says "The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."  Jesus.  He is the true bread.  If we come to Him, we will never hunger.  Jesus is not only the Provider, He is the Bread of life who never runs out and gives us exceedingly, abundantly more than we can imagine (Finding I Am, Lysa Terkeurst, pg. 35).

He says it.  And if He says it, it has to be true.  I can turn to Jesus for all of my needs.  He is my provider.  He is my source of life and the ONLY One that will give me true satisfaction.  All I have to do is believe that.  Believe that it is true with everything in my heart, mind, and soul - like my existence depends on it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pushing Through the Pain

Have you ever started working out and you have those aches and pains and wonder if it is really worth it all?  Your trainer keeps telling you to push through and the results will show up and you will be pleased in time?  The burn and the pain that you are going through you somehow know will be worth it, so you just keep at it.


That is kind of how life feels sometimes.  Right now my life is sort of in this painful, dull ache of a time.  I can't really pinpoint the actual culprit but I know that God is doing something.  He is telling me that, in the end, it will be worth it.  Each time my heart feels that stab, I just keep telling myself that there is some purpose in it.  When my happy gets bumped and my feelings are on the bluer side, I simply let out a sigh and know that it will all be worth it.  I have to confess that this type of thing is hard for this girl.  I am an over-thinker and highly sensitive.  I can't say that each time I am disappointed that I just brush it off.  That is actually the opposite of what happens...especially inside, but I am definitely doing better than I used to.  I am trying really hard to focus on what God is doing in my life.  

God called me home at this time....away from the hustle and bustle of work life.  I am alone most of the time, which I do not enjoy.  I would much rather be with my husband or my closest friends laughing and talking about whatever, but unfortunately someone has to work!  :)  In the quiet, God is teaching me many things.  He is teaching me about myself, about my relationships, and most importantly, about Himself.  

Right now, more so than not, deep inside, life hurts....it is painful.  I don't know where the source of it is, but I know that God is asking me to push through that pain to find the greater good.  Please don't misunderstand me.  I am blessed beyond measure and God is so so good to me, but there is something that God is trying to teach me, and because of that, my soul aches.  There is a longing in my heart to free myself from whatever it is that is making me feel so hurt and I believe that only God can do that.  I am so looking forward to the other side of this.  Will you pray with and for me?

Monday, February 6, 2017

What Love

You never change, you are the God you say you are;
When I'm afraid you calm and still my beating heart.
You stay the same, when hope is just a distant thought,
You take my pain and you lead me to the cross

What love is this, that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess you're always enough for me you're all I need

I look to you, I see the scars upon your hands.
And hold the truth, that when I can't you always can.
And standing here beneath the shadow of the cross.
I'm overwhelmed that I keep finding open arms.

What love is this that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess, you're always enough for me
You're all I need

Jesus in your suffering you were reaching, you thought of me
Jesus in your suffering you were reaching, you thought of me

What love is this, that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess, you're always enough for me
You're all I need

What love is this, that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess, you're always enough for me
Always enough for me
Always enough for me

~Kari Jobe

Sunday, January 1, 2017

See ya!

Every year I take some time to reflect on the previous year, and this year is no exception.  Two-thousand sixteen was a decent year and I want to take some time to remember the good things about the 12 months of this past year as well as the challenges that came my way.


I started off my 2016 with the desire to be more like Jesus.  That is always where I begin.  Sometimes in my daily walk, I succeed in that pursuit, sometimes I do not.  The thing that I have realized this year is, regardless of my efforts or success, He still loves me.  It was a recurring them from January 1 through December 31.  

Looking back on some of my social media posts from this past year, I came across this quote from Beth Moore, and I think it is worth repeating.

"We can draw joy from Jesus.  Relief.  Laughter. We can gulp down hope when a moment is hard to swallow.  We can draw buckets from the bottomless well of His love so we can have something to give people in our lives who drain us dry.  We can also draw something for ourselves when we've ground or own encouragers to dust."

I am thankful for His grace, even when I don't accept it fully.  My prayer this past year was to love better.  Love everyone....better.  Again, I didn't fail completely but it was not easy either.  I started off the year feeling like I had a great concept of God's love and how much He loves me, and ended the year wondering if it was even possible that He could love someone like me.  What I do know is that God created me, He protected me and brought me out of a painful childhood, and He has a great plan for my life.  He speaks to me when I least expect it and also when I am seeking Him the most.  He sent His only Son so that I would not have to pay the price for the trash in my life.  That is love.  A love that is unconditional and unfailing.  

I started the beginning of the year going through the Bible with Angie Smith in her Bible study, Seamless.  It was life changing.  I learned details and things I never knew and had never been in a study where you go through the entire Bible. It was wonderful.  I then went to Hebrews and did a self-guided podcast study through Jen Wilkin.  This might be one of my all time top 3 favorite studies that I have ever done!  It was AMAZING!!!  I learned so much and could not wait to get up and dig in to the Word each morning.  A little while after starting Hebrews, our ladies at church started 1 Peter by Jen Wilkin so I did both at the same time and loved them both.

On February 24th, I lost my precious Aunt Donna.  She was like a mother to me and she was my biggest fan.  It was one of the hardest deaths I have ever experienced and I miss her so so much.  

I read a few books last year.  One of them was Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle and it is one of my favorites.  Here is a good quote from that:

"The truth is, we need our friends.  I mean, we need Jesus to truly complete us, but we absolutely need our girlfriends, because no man wants to listen to all the words we have to say in the course of a day."

I also read Looking For Lovely by Annie Downs which was also very good!  One of my favorites of the year was Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson.  It was so so so good!!!!!  I even bought several copies for my friends to read it! 

I voted in my first primary election in March.  And then voted again in November.  The elections results were quite surprising and what I know is that God is in control and still on His throne.  While it was a surprise to me, it certainly wasn't to Him.

I went to a few conferences this year.  The first one was in March with Stephanie for her birthday to Waco to see Beth Moore.  It was wonderful.  We even took a minute to see the silos at Magnolia Market.  I went to a conference in Frisco at the end of the year and it was one of the best I have ever been to.  

We took a few trips this past year.  In March, Lauren and I took off for Little Rock (Conway) to go to Sarah's wedding.  It was a sweet weekend for just the two of us.  I also got to see my mom that weekend...more about that later.  In April, I was able to take a girls' trip to Bossier City, LA with Sara and Rachel to see Carrie Underwood.  It was just about some of the greatest fun I had in a long time!!  In June, we set out for a LONG road trip to the beach!!!  Our first family vacation of the year was to Gulf Shores, Alabama and we spent a week at a beach house with some of our friends.  It was so much fun!!    Then, our big family trip came just two weeks ago when we went back to Disney World for 5 days and a Disney Cruise for 4 days.  It was one of the best trips we have ever taken and I will blog about that later!

I was able to go to LOTS of Ranger games!!!  It really was one of my favorite things that I did last year.  It didn't matter if they won or lost (okay, maybe it did matter a little), but the games were just fun!!!  I was able to see the Razorbacks defeat TCU at the Hornfrogs stadium in amazing seats and that was AWESOME!!!!!  I went to my first professional hockey (Stars) game with some friends and co-workers and had the best time!!!!!

Work was quite eventful in the year 2016!  It was quite possibly the most successful year I have ever had at a job.  In June, I spoke at the Stroke Symposium about social work/discharge planning in front of about 150 people.  It was maybe the most nervous I have ever been but it went well.  That actually prompted another speaking opportunity, so I also spoke at the DVT Symposium a few months later.  I was nominated for a GREAT Award in January and then actually was chosen for a GREAT Award in November.  In August, I started probably the most influential thing I have ever done in my professional career:  Emerging Leaders Program.  It was honor to be nominated, a greater honor to be chosen, and now I am a graduate of the program.  I will forever be grateful for the things I learned from that program, and I am excited to see where my profession takes me next.  I had a great yearly evaluation and a nice merit increase.  I have never thrived more in a job than at Methodist Dallas.  It is a great place to work!

Time with friends in 2016 was so precious to me.  My prayer was that last year would be a year that I would not seek for MORE friends, necessarily, but that the friendships that I do have would grow.  That prayer was answered in such a wonderful way.  We celebrated birthdays, went out for girls' nights, painted, solved puzzles in order to get out of rooms in an hour, and just shared life.  I do not have many close friends, but the ones I have are so incredibly special to me.  God has blessed me with wonderful friends and for that, I am grateful.  

In June, I decided to seek out professional counseling for the first time.  It was scary and I was nervous but it was needed.  I am still doing that now and the growth I have seen in my life has been monumental because of those therapy sessions.  I was diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder with anxiety.  Working through things with someone unrelated to my life has proven to be very helpful.  My anxiety has gotten better and I feel better about life in general most days.  She has given me many tools to deal with everyday life and anxiety.  

God was really good to us this year financially and I am thankful.  I got a new car!!! :)  My husband's job is thriving and we are seeing the fruits from that.  I am so proud of him.  We celebrated our 12th anniversary in August.  This man puts up with a lot from me and this past year was no different.  We had some rough patches but I love him more than ever!

In November, my mom received her sentence for vehicular manslaughter that occurred in August 2015.  This has been one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with.  God is faithful.  The main prayer during this time was that my mom would know the love of Christ and He was very firm in letting me know that part of that love was to be through me.  I have learned how to love my mom fully and better through Christ alone.  While she serves her jail sentence, I pray that she continues to see and feel the work of God in her life.  As this information floods your minds when you read, please remember that in these types of situations, if you do not have all of the information, you cannot fully understand.  I have such a different train of thought about stuff I hear and read and I am a little less quick to make a judgment because of this situation.  

My Hannah turned 5, Lauren turned 7, and Rachel is 10 and almost as big as me.  A few weeks ago, I turned 36 and I have never been more blessed! 

Our church also called a new pastor who will start this week.  We spent the year learning from and listening to Dr. Tommy Kiker and I will forever be thankful to him and his family.  Pastor Shawn and his family will be a blessing to us (already have) and I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for Inglewood in 2017 and the years to come!  

It has not been an easy year.  It has had ups and downs and everything in between, but one thing will always remain:  GOD IS FAITHFUL!!!  HE REMAINS ON HIS THRONE and it's time for my 2017 goals.

1.  To live more intentionally...in all areas of my life
2.  Think before speaking/typing and think about how I make others feel
3.  Pursue a more personal and real relationship with Christ daily
4.  Spend more time living in the moment and enjoying my children

I will continue asking God to continue to allow me to be filled with His love and have a greater understanding of what that means.  

Happy New Year!!  May you all feel God's goodness this year, regardless of what happens.  He is good.  He is faithful!


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Grace Still Covers Me

A dear friend of mine texted me this week and told me to listen to this new song by Casting Crowns - who I adore!!!!  This is just a great song!!!  I am posting the lyrics because they are awesome and I cannot find a link to the video yet, but everyone needs to download this song!  My favorite line in the song is


"I hid from you haunted by my failure, and found a God whose grace still covers me."

"God Of All My Days"
I came to You with my heart in pieces
And found the God with healing in His hands
I turned to You, put everything behind me
And found the God who makes all things new
I looked to You, drowning in my questions
And found the God who holds all wisdom
And I trusted You and stepped out on the ocean
You caught my hand among the waves
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days
CHORUS:
Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

                        I ran from You, I wandered in the shadows
And found a God who relentlessly pursues
I hid from You, haunted by my failure
And found the God whose grace still covers me
I fell on You when I was at my weakest
And found the God, the lifter of my head
And I’ve worshiped You
And felt You right beside me
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

REPEAT CHORUS

In my worry, God You are my stillness
In my searching, God You are my answers
In my blindness, God You are my vision
In my bondage, God You are my freedom
In my weakness, God You are my power
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Living Loved

I started my very first Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study this morning.  I was very excited about this study because it is based on the new book by one of my favorite authors - Lysa Terkeurst.  The Bible study is about living loved when you feel left out, lonely, and less than.  The book is Uninvited.  I have had the book for awhile but have hesitated getting started with reading it because I knew that it would hit hard and somewhere very deep.  I don't want that to sound like a "oh, poor pitiful me" statement because I am not wanting anyone to feel sorry for me.  I don't often feel uninvited or left out but it is the feeling loved part that I struggle with.  I have really really been battling this for about 2 years or so and even more so in the past year.


This morning, we watched a couple of videos and had our first memory verse.  The memory verse was Colossians 3:12.  I am going to give it to you from the NLT because I really like the part that says "people he loves."  

"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

I am convinced that Lysa and I are the same person...or at the very least, we would be BFF if we knew each other in real life!!!!  Something she said today resonated with me and is SPOT ON with what I have been feeling.  

"I want to live from a place where an off kilter interaction with other people is not a downward spiral of wonky feelings but stable love instead." ~Lysa Terkeurst

YES, YES, and EXTRA DOUBLE SUPER-SIZED AMEN YES YES YES!!!!!!!

I mean there are days when someone can say or do one thing.  One response that was not in line with my expectation and I am spent!  What in the world?!  So many days I feel like I am the only one in the world that feels this way, and the fact that someone put this on paper is so refreshing and encouraging to me.  I don't feel like such a freak!  ;)  Do I like it any better?  Nope, but I know that I am not alone.  

She went on to talk about the guilt associated with feeling anything but thankful for all of the blessings in her life when others around her have it so much worse (raises hand), but describes it as an "undercurrent of disappointments that ebbed and flowed" when she is truly honest about her feelings.  Then....what do I do?  I perform.  I start pouring out love and service with the hope that someone will give me what I am longing for.  

"Performance based endeavors are not the answer for living loved.  Living loved is sourced in your quiet, daily surrender to the One Who made you."

As I was looking back over these notes and thinking about these words, it kind of frustrated me.  I got frustrated at myself.  I mean, why is it so hard to just live loved because I am?  The Bible tells me that I am loved by God, I have been taught that, I am closer to God now than ever before, I am His princess, I am redeemed, forgiven, set free, I AM LOVED!  Why in THE WORLD is that so hard to just believe and LIVE??!!  Pick it up, take it with me, drink it, eat it, live it, and BELIEVE it?!  I do not have an answer for that, but regardless, it makes me cry.  A lot....from the deepest part of my heart.  I cry.  Why oh why do I look for love in all the wrong places?  Not bad places but not God places.  HE is the only One that can fill that void.  It is not my friends' job to come to my rescue.  When I don't get x number of likes on a Facebook post or Instagram picture, my world should not come crashing down.  When I text, "I love you" and I don't get that in return, my heart should not shatter.  I should live LOVED.  BECAUSE I AM.  Those people that I so desperately long to be loved by....they actually DO love me, but even more important than that....GOD LOVES ME and THAT is Who I should seek to please.  

Wanting to be loved by the very One that created me should be my greatest desire.

All I know is that He is not done with me.......pressing on.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

In the Silence



What do you do when your husband takes your kids, all of them, to Arkansas for a week and you are left by yourself?  You do all of the things that you can't do when the kids are home, right?  You plan stuff every night.  You stay up super late and eat ice cream for dinner.  And watch movies that children's eyes can't see.  You have friends over and go to the movies, shop, and get pedicures.  That all sounds fun but I actually did not do ANY of that.  None of it.  

At the end of the previous week, I posted about how my week was...well, less than what I wanted it to be.  And, I am not going to take that back, but it was actually a blessing in disguise.  At the end of that post, I said, "God is so good." And, you know what?  He is!  I wasn't trying to convince myself that He is good.  I believed it because I knew that, even in the midst of a crummy week, He had something in store for me that I could not see at that moment.  And, boy, was I right!  

I remember thinking as my family was about to drive away for 7 days, that I was feeling a bit anxious because I did not have one single solitary thing planned for my week.  The irony of it is that I did not even know when I was going to return to work at that point....long story.  My family was leaving and I had a chance to do all of the things that wanted to do and nothing was on the agenda.  I remember going to my bedroom and laying down on the bed and reflecting on the week that had just unfolded and I began to cry.  The next thing I remember was waking up a couple of hours later.  I was tired.  God said, "Rest."  And that would be my theme for the remainder of the week....

As I woke up Monday morning, I set out for my week, unsure of what it would look like.  That day, I had a sweet time just visiting with one of my favorite people.  We talked about important things, shared everyday happenings in our lives, and just shared what God had us share.  One of the highlights of my week.  Tuesday, I went back to work and the evening was spent eating take out in my PJs and watching the Rangers beat the As from my living room. Tuesday a neat thing happened that I am convinced God orchestrated.  I sat and visited with a friend that I have not really talked to in awhile.  She has been sick with a rare illness that causes issues with balance and coordination.  One of the things she said really stuck with me and I think it will for a long time.  I noticed that she is different in the way that she deals with things.  I said, "You are so calm."  Her response was, "You know, you go to bed one night with all of these plans, thinking that you will just wake up tomorrow and everything will be the same as it was when you went to bed.  Then something happens, and your world changes.  Suddenly, the things that you thought were important, they aren't quite as important as you thought they were.  You learn that you can only do what you can do, and the rest, you just let it go.  God told me to be still and I did not listen.  Now, I am listening."  Wow.  I mean.  Wow......Wednesday, work then Bible study and catching up with an old (young) friend.  It was incredibly spur of the moment, simple, catching up.  Thursday, I went to counseling, then went shopping for a baby shower that I helped with yesterday and then home.  Friday night, I was able to go to the Ranger game with the Russell family and it was one of the funnest things I have done in a long time!  I had a really good time!  They are one of my favorite families.  Just genuinely good people.  Love them so much!  And, the Rangers won!!!!!  My family came back last night and I got to love on my two youngest girls.  My best friend is back and my girls are already arguing again.  All {almost - Rachel will be home Friday} is right with the world!!  

I walked into my house one night this week and I just stood there and listened....there was not one sound.  It was silent.  All I could do was say, "God is so so good."  God is doing such a refining work in my life right now and I do not understand it all.  He is speaking and I am listening.  I just want to hear Him clearly.  As I got still and in the midst of activity around me this weekend, I began reflecting in my heart all of the things that God has done in my life, and He started speaking to me.   It is an incredible thing when we know what we are supposed to be doing.  When God opens and closes doors and we obey, He will equip us in the areas He has called us to. 

May I always be listening.  When God gives me silence, I hope I always stop and listen.  When I am anxious because I don't have any plans, may I recognize that He will give me divine appointments with golden nuggets of wisdom from people that will impact my life forever.  When He tells me to be still, I pray that I will listen and that I will know that tomorrow could very possibly look different than today did and my plans are not God's.  He is FOR me and wants my best.  

You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You've always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me


"Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.  Colossians 3:12,16



Reason to Rejoice
 
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