Courage.

She grabbed my hand as dizziness swirled around her body. “I’m okay, it will pass,” she said calmly. And, it did. She’s lived with her body of rebellion for too many years.

The ones who have degrees hanging on office walls are stumped. “Let’s try this.” “Let’s try that.” “I’m sorry, the tests came back fine but there is something definitely wrong.”

Whatever her body is rebelling against has changed her life. A grand pity-party she could throw herself, yet, she doesn’t. She fights for normalcy every day. Things she loves to do are either put on hold or tried on the good days.

Yet, she hasn’t given up.

Courage.

cour·age
/ˈkərij/
noun
-the ability to do something that frightens one.
-strength in the face of pain or grief.

Courage is the opposite of fear. Oh, how that fear can grip me. I get caught up in the what ifs. Insecurity has been my friend for way too long. (I think it is way past the time for a breakup!) Even though my friend is in the throes of her illness, she encouraged me. Me. She set aside her aches and pains and spoke life-giving words to me. The body rebellion isn’t defining her. When she is tired of fighting but chooses to continue when her body screams to give up, that, my friends, is a shining example of courage.courage

I look around and see so many courageous people who are gracious enough to share a part of themselves with me. Courage in the face of cancer, family issues, continuing to focus on college with determination even when life throws lemons from all directions, care-taking for parents, going after dreams…and the list could go on.

Each of those courage-people, going through the examples above, has one thing in common. They know they cannot do it on their own. God. God is their inner-strength.

Keep reaching out and touching the hem of His garment, my friends. You are an encouragement to me and I thank you!

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you…”

 

Getting My Groove Back

If you’ve read along for the past several months, you’ve figured out this has been a rough season. You know, the ‘when it rains it pours’ season. I’m taking a few days off to get my groove back. You’re welcome for the terrible word picture that just created.

This morning as I talked myself into getting out of bed, I talked with God…and listened. We had a good talk. One of the things he brought to mind was a topic I was afraid to ask Him. I know, what was I thinking? He already knows my thoughts, yet, I feared the answer. Writing. Is all the time I spend pouring out words really something this almost fifty-two-year-old woman should be doing?

He reminded me of a book I read years ago called A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman. In it, the author wrote about God’s first recorded act in Genesis 1. “In the beginning, God CREATED the heavens and the earth.”

He created.

Sometimes I wonder if the time I spend creating (writing), is a waste of time. Should I do something else? Is this really a distraction from what God really wants me to do? My writing isn’t going to make a difference, is it?

Insecurity, anyone? I have plenty to share. (hangs head)

God created.

daylight forest glossy lake
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

And, what a fine job he did. He obviously didn’t think it was a waste of time to create for all of our senses.

I am a work in progress. Just like what I create. It seems so small. So insignificant. Yet, anything I do, that points to him, is worthy and will make a difference. It doesn’t matter if it reaches the masses. It only matters that I’m doing it for the One who matters most.

The Audience of One.

 

P.S. I am editing what I wrote last November during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Oh my word, I would so rather be writing. But, editing is part of the process…I may not have any hair left, but I am sticking with it.

A friend I met through a local writing group is also participating in NaNoWriMo. She is writing. And boy is she pumping out the words. We are keeping one another accountable. And, I am so proud of her progress. I can’t wait to read it when she is ready to share her story, her words, a part of herself with me.

Let’s meet back here after I’ve recovered from NaNoWriMo, okay? Okay!

Support Team

Every year for the past 6 years (I may have missed a year but who’s counting), a few friends and I volunteer to help with registration the day of a memorial run/race. A friend and cousin-through-marriage, along with her husband and daughter were in a accident eight years ago. My friend and their daughter died from injuries sustained in the accident, leaving behind her husband and five other children.

This was the first year I noticed something different from all the other years. At least two, maybe there were more, runners had someone there to support them. One half-marathon runner had at least six people armed with signs to support her.

In talking with her mom, this was her daughter’s first half-marathon. When the runner’s team showed up, the mom welcomed them with open arms. It was a touching sight. I don’t know the half-marathon runner’s story, but I know she is well loved.

And, like I’m prone to do, I began thinking…we all need a support team.

Imagine (because it is my favorite) a team of people you know and trust. Now, picture them with signs with words which motivate, inspire, and encourage. As you run (or walk, I’m not the boss of you) past, you not only see the signs with life-giving words, you see the person behind the sign smiling, cheering for you.

You get that second-wind of “I can do this” and charge on toward the finish knowing, no matter the time it takes, you’ll finish well. Isn’t that a beautiful picture?

We run through this race of life isolated and alone at times. It becomes depressing. It’s good to be alone and regroup. But, when life throws punch after punch your way, a support team may be just the thing you need.

And don’t forget about God. I tend to run to friends first and then remember, “Oh, yeah…hey, God?” (I am such a work in progress) I’m trying to remember to call on Him first in every situation. Honestly? I fail. I’m so glad God will never give up on me.

God has the biggest and best signs, ever!

woman in gray crew neck shirt running on brown soil during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Where, not why.

I have a love for all things Melanie Shankle, a.k.a. Big Mama. I mean, I’m not a stalker or anything, at least I don’t think so. Which begs the question, if a person truly is a stalker, would he or she know it? But, I digress (and no need to call the police worried for Melanie’s safety because no stalking, just a fondness of her writing).

When our oldest daughter won a free ‘ride’ to She Speaks Conference when she was a Junior in high school, Melanie Shankle – Big Mama, spoke at the conference. So, of course, being a diligent mom, I checked out the blog to see who this person was, the one with a strange nickname, who my daughter mentioned to us as we traveled home.

Long story (because you know I can make anything a long story) short, Melanie’s (since in my imaginary world we are on a first name basis) blog posts made me happy and snort out loud. When she announced her first book, it was a great day for all the world…okay, maybe mine and a friend’s world. We may have called each other and did our own version of a happy dance because Melanie!! And, I may have been very jealous when said friend actually met her. I won’t hold it against her though…much.

Check out her books…with titles like Sparkling Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room (a personal favorite), Nobody’s Cuter Than You, you just can’t go wrong.

Her latest and greatest, Church of the Small Things, is a book I said, AMEN, repeatedly while reading all the truths the pages held.  And out of that book came a 100-day devotional called Everyday Holy. (or for the younger crowd, she wrote Fearless Faith – 100-day devotions for girls) And, FINALLY getting to the reason I called you all here…

This mornings devotion, Day 25 – The Bigger Person, hit me right between the eyes. Well, maybe “hit me right in the heart” would be a better metaphor.

She wrote about feeling left out, turning into a “quicksand of self-doubt”. She goes on to write, “What’s wrong with me? Am I not a likable person?…Am I not good enough?…” Who among us has said any or all of those to yourself at least once or twelve-hundred times?! (I’m raising both hands high!!) When I read those questions, I teared up. How many times in my *cough* fifty plus almost two *cough, cough* years of life have I said that to myself.

art background brick brick texture
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Melanie relays a few paragraphs later about lying in bed with her mind racing and feeling God speaking to her heart, “You need to quit asking Me, ‘Why?’ and start asking Me, ‘Where?'”

When those times of feeling worthless, invisible, not good enough rush back into my thoughts, I really, really, really (well, you get it) want to remember to ask, “Where would you like me to go? Where should I serve? Where are You leading me?” instead of falling into self-pity mode. That mode is so easy to fall into, yet, God has so much more for me…for us.

Would you join me in asking, “Where, Lord?” It seems like a scary question because He may call me somewhere uncomfortable. I like a comfy couch, chair, house…but it’s not about me. It’s not about comfort, much to my disappointment. God’s ways are so much better than what I could ever imagine. Give me endless faith, Lord!

Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

May I be willing, Lord! So be it, Amen.

The Competition

puffy cloudsSpring is my favorite time of the year. Blue sky with the beautiful white, puffy clouds lazily floating by changing shape as it goes. Fresh, green grass springs forth out of the dead (ok, dormant) grass of the winter. Let’s not forget (because I almost did) flinging open the windows to let in the fresh air (although sometimes stinky fresh country air).

Yet, and Spring, do not get angry with me and pull out your tornadoes, Fall is slowly creeping in giving you some competition.

When someone mentions Fall as a favorite season, I cringe. Bugs crazy with trying to find a warm spot for the winter, the need to wear coats (yet one more thing to do to get out of the door), and pumpkin spice everything. Not to mention (which I will anyway) we are a day closer to the ticking time bomb called Old Man Winter. He is a nasty old man.

fall skyTo be fair, Fall is pretty spectacular. God shows off His love for our visual happiness by turning leaves into a vibrant painting of colors. And, the sky is beautiful. The white, puffy clouds are still there but share the sky with dark, textured clouds as shadows play off them.

God’s creation often stops me in my tracks and I stand in awe of the beauty and power. He created “a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). But, does that really mean I need to like Old Man Winter? Asking for a friend…

Our lives are filled with seasons, some happier seasons than others. Yet, with all the crap (yes, I said it) in those seasons of ick, there is a beauty if we look deep enough, hard enough, and with determination. Kind of like what I’m finding out about Fall. There’s a time for everything…

What season/time of year is your favorite?

 

 

Steady Change

Let’s talk about change, shall we? 

Are you still here?

I am quite sure a few people quit reading and clicked away as soon as the word “change” was read. I’m not sure it is 100% accurate to say everyone hates change…perhaps only 99.998% accurate.

bean fieldI’ve been thinking about change. It’s that time of year where change can be seen in many places. Fields of soybeans and corn turning from beautiful shades of green to a drab yellow, green leaves transforming into shades of red and yellow float to the ground, and even the sky can change from a brilliant blue dotted with white, puffy clouds to a dark grey warning us of another change coming. leaf

Yet, for all the above examples, there is a positive. I’m sure the farmer looks forward to the drab yellow. His fingers getting itchy for harvest – it’s what he/she has trained for all summer long. And who hasn’t stared at a woods full of red, yellow and orange leaves in awe when the sunbeams hit the contrast just right? It’s beautiful. And, the fresh smell of rain, the clearing of the air, after a storm makes the angry looking clouds worth it. 

Our lives are full of change, some great and some not-so-great. Yet it is life. We can’t stay babies forever, physically and Spiritually. We grow. We grow in size and wisdom (at least we hope!). Stagnant may seem nice, shoot, even easy, yet we need to change, to grow. 

cloudsThere is change in my life right now. Okay, many changes. Sometimes I feel sad, but, the change needs to happen. There are many positives that come along with it – just need to look deeply for it at times. As Ecclesiastes 3:4 reads, “…there is a time to mourn and a time to dance”. 

May we find the courage to allow ourselves the time to mourn and dance through this life God has given. And, may we remember to cry out to Him, run to Him, during our storm of change. 

Edit: Please note, I’m not saying change is easy. It isn’t. And, if your change is a mountain of travesty without a positive in view, I’m sorry. I offer a prayer for someone to come into your life and walk with you through the thick, stifling change you are experiencing.

 

It Happened One Summer

The hot, humid weather turned extra crispy and has me wondering where the summer has gone. It was a busy summer of days melting into one another.

Things I’ve learned (and still learning) this summer:

  1. 20180604_104722_resizedA week-long vacation, alone with your husband, is a good thing. Honestly, besides our honeymoon, we’ve never vacationed without children in tow. I came away wondering why we waited so long to escape the clutches of our children get away! We managed to leave the stresses and pressures of life and focused on having fun again. Now, if only our finances would allow us to explore the country every year. Would it be terrible of me to set up a GoFundMe account? Asking for a friend, of course.
  2. God is everywhere. He is in the good, the bad, and the not so pretty. He is working in all things whether we see it right away or not. This is not new to me, yet, something I need to remind myself from time to time. I think it is a continual relearning every time a crisis arises. He makes himself known at the right time reminding me of His presence, love, and open-eye-faith to see is a wonderful thing.
  3. Summer of surprises. Our dad fell in June breaking his ankle, a long recovery hampered by many things. It’s still ongoing. Decisions made and life as we all knew it came to a screeching halt. Our focus became our dad. Phone calls, cleaning up, cleaning out, and more things than I or my brother expected to do at warp speed. Yet, family.
  4. As much as I hated our dad falling, forcing his “normal” to change, a wonderful turn of events happened. My brother and I have a relationship again. Honestly, I don’t think we were ever very close. I mean, he is the reason I have a powerful arm punch, a hint at our relationship growing up. However, we worked together to complete the tasks set before us this summer. Working together formed a friendship. Will it always be this way? I can’t predict the future but I can say, in all honesty, I’d like to try.
  5. My brother and I became close because of all the time we spent together. Every day we were in communication in one way or another. Yet, it was the time we spent in each other’s presence that made the difference. Which, hold on for the ride, is what got me thinking. Presence every day is what made the difference. If I want to have an incredible relationship with our Creator, God, I need to spend time with Him every single day. Is this a new light bulb moment? No. And, that is the sad part. Transparency has me telling you, dear reader, that I struggle with this. I mean really struggle. I don’t read my Bible every day. I don’t pray every day. (confession is good, right?!) So, how can I fully know my own Creator? Yet, He is still in my life loving me, waiting for me. What a work in progress I am…
  6. My immediate family still loves me even when I’m nasty. When the kiddos were little I’d hear how good (behavior) they were for grandma or a babysitter. Yet, when they entered our house after spending a few hours away from us, mom and dad, I’d often wonder if grandma or the babysitter was a full-out liar. Oh my. Even though I didn’t like it, I knew their unwelcomed behavior stemmed from a place deep inside and they knew we and our home was a “safe place” to let out the grumpies they held in while away from us. So even though I’m not little (in any way), my family is safe. I hated the words and tones that often came out of my mouth and my immature behavior at times. Stress is a nasty thing. I know they didn’t like it either but they loved/love me unconditionally. That Christ-like love was and is truly awesome especially when I was/am in the storm of this trial.
  7. I don’t like and/or can “do” podcasts. Listening to a recording of someone talking, no matter how interesting the person or the topic, has my mind wandering aimlessly here and there until I remember I am supposed to be listening to the podcast and not the conversation I just had with myself in my own mind. I’ve tried and failed so many times I’ve had to accept my auditory short-comings. Give me a video and I’m all yours!

What did you learn (and perhaps still learning) this summer?