Just Be Held

I heard these words to a favorite song today as I was hurrying from one place to another, using my lunchtime for errands instead of eating:

The world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place. I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.

Do you ever have times when it feels like the world is just falling apart right at your feet? You thought you were set upon solid ground only to find out the sand is sinking? Life can be hard, ladies… marriage, motherhood, family relationships, career difficulties, friendships that aren’t what you thought they were…it can all be overwhelming sometimes.  Often it seems like everything is crumbling around us,and we are hanging on for dear life!

My sisters, it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to relax that grip you have on your troubles and let God take the reigns. It’s okay to let him wrap his arms around you and hold you through the storm. I have this specific memory of my childhood where it was storming outside, the night was dark and loud with the roar of thunder. I was just a little girl, but my daddy picked me up and held me. And I was no longer afraid.

That is the comfort we get from our Father in heaven. That ability to take our fears to him and have him pick us up into his loving arms and carry us through the storm. So whatever is going on in your life, whatever is falling apart around you, let go and give it to God. He will hold you tight and carry you to the end of the storm, then set you back upon dry land.

And remember, sometimes when we think things are falling apart, they really are just falling into place. They are lining up according to the will of God and his plan for our lives. While it might not be what you wanted or expected, you can rest assured that when God is in control, it will be for your good.

A New Season

It is Sunday. I sit here, torn between relief and sadness. Haven’t I waited for this all summer? Why am I feeling sad?

Tomorrow is “back-to-school” day. There have been moments over the last couple of months that I couldn’t wait for this day. There have been moments when I was certain I wouldn’t survive with my sanity until this day came. I have had days where it seemed my kids could do nothing but argue and fuss at each other, or create a disaster in their rooms. And there have been days when my patience has been tested, and I have often failed that test profoundly.

For every one of those days, there have been twice as many of the other type of days. I love those summer days when time seems to stand still, laughter flows, and beautiful memories are made. We have spent many a night in competition (and some blatant cheating) in our Family Game Nights. We have camped and had adventures in the forest. We have tried new places and visited old favorites. We have spent time with family and friends, and made lots of new friends along the way. Our schedules, that are usually so hectic, have been more relaxed and there has been more time for movie nights or reading.

It is a new season. I am glad to see them pack up their backpacks and head off tomorrow…two to a new school, and the other to his first experience of high school. I am excited for them, and the changes this new year will bring. But I am also a little melancholy for the lazy summer days, the lack of stringent schedule, and the freedom that comes in the summertime. Already, our calendars are filling up, and it will get worse before it gets better.

I know my mama heart is not the only one that feels these conflicting emotions. I know there are many of you who recognize yourself in my words. We have enjoyed our summer season. But God is leading us into a new season… one in which He has blessings and abundance around every corner when we keep our eyes focused on Him.

I’m driving my kids to school tomorrow. I am going to hug them and wish them a beautiful day. Then I will drive away, leaving them in the hands of my Savior, who I know without a doubt loves them more than I ever could, and watches over them…and me…in every season.

May God richly bless you and your families during this and every season. And may we all continue to seek Him above all else.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)



The Power of Words

Isn’t it funny how words can have power over us? When positive words are spoken over us, it gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, and builds our self-esteem. Positive words help us to realize who we are, and make us believe we can fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Positivity and affirmation heal our broken plans and spur us on to greater things. Then there are the negative words…the ones that bring us down and steal our joy (if we let them), dissipating our self-confidence like a puddle of water on a hot day. They cause our hearts to conjure up every negative thing we have ever thought about ourselves, even those things we think we have safely hidden in the depths of our hearts…they rise to the surface when darkness is spoken over us.

Recently I had some negative words aimed in my direction…words spoken out of anger for the simple purpose of tearing me down. Hurtful words…unexpected words…words meant for harm and not for good. I let those words steal my joy for a little while. I let them soak into my innermost self and define me…for just a little while. But then I remembered WHOSE I am. And I assured myself that God doesn’t make mistakes. I reminded myself that there are many people who think I am nice, who like me for who I am, and who are real friends to me. I convinced myself that those words would not define who I am today, tomorrow, or any time to come.

I have spent the last several days in New York City, a place known for its rudeness and lack of kind gestures. And I have tried to make each place I have been in this city a little better while I’m in it. I struck up a conversation with a Brooklyn native as we walked through Brooklyn Heights and he explained the architecture and history of the borough to my husband and I. And there was sweet Phillipi from France, who we met in Central Park. He was so glad to talk with us and he shared about how welcome he feels in America. There was the beautiful African American family on the subway. When I told that mama how adorable her kids were, her face lit up. As we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge I saw several families trying to get themselves all in a selfie, so time after time I offered to take their photos so they could all be included in the memory. Their smiles of thanks blessed my heart. I did my best to catch the eye of weary looking subway travelers and offer a smile. I complimented women on their clothing, complimented the food that we ate, and shared a laugh with an old gentleman who almost lost his map at the subway station. I helped a young couple fresh off the plane figure out the Metro system so they could make it into Manhattan on the subway.

Each and every one of these moments were special. Each and every one of these moments were an opportunity for me to remember that I AM a nice person, despite someone that says otherwise.

If you are struggling with someone who speaks negativity into your life don’t let the enemy win. Click To Tweet

If you are struggling with someone who speaks negativity into your life don’t let the enemy win. He will use any one at any time he can to break you, to make you feel unworthy, and to chip away at your confidence. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8). You are better than that. You are precious, loved, and valuable… and when you keep that in mind that, you are victorious! Have confidence in yourself, have compassion for others, and don’t allow the words of others to harm you. Remember that God is always fighting on your behalf. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17). God created you, he fashioned you for a purpose, and He doesn’t want anyone putting their fingerprints on his blueprints.

How are you speaking to others? How are others speaking to you? Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Use your power wisely.

Friendship

In my mind, I feel that I often fall short in my friendships. I am so busy so much of the time that I feel like I am not always able to invest the way I would like to. To me that brings on that ugly “f” word…FAILURE!

But God sees me differently. He sees my heart. He knows my desires. He knows my intentions. And because He knows me so well, He puts people in my path that remind me that I am being a good friend, that I am investing my time into people, and that even though my time is sometimes limited, I am making a difference. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

And because He knows me so well, He puts people in my path that remind me that I am being a good friend, that… Click To Tweet

The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life, and make you see the sun where you once saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, you start to believe in you too. The people that love you, simply for being you. The once in a lifetime kind of people.”

This quote was handwritten on a card I received in the mail today. A card that went on to thank me for being such a good friend. As a tear rolled down my cheek, I realized that I am not a failure. I am just a busy mama who is making her best effort to get it all done. And someone sees me as who I am, and loves me anyways. Someone appreciates my friendship, even though I am so far from being a perfect friend. I make a difference, even when I don’t always realize it.

Are you struggling in your friendships today? Are you feeling like a failure, or that you are lacking in that area of your life? God sees you, He knows your heart. He knows just who you need in your life to make you feel like a special person, and to show you the meaning of true friendship. And He will bring you a card, a word of kindness, a moment…He will bring you just what you need.

And in all of this, we need to remember that we have the greatest friend of all in Jesus Christ. He never lets us down, He is always there, He knows us so very well, and He calls us “FRIEND”.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Do You See?

Do you see me? I’m the lady at the red light who is dabbing her eyes with a napkin. No, I don’t have allergies or a cold. Did you ever consider that those are tears I am wiping away? Perhaps my thoughts wandered as I was driving and I was having a memory of someone I lost.

Do you see me? I’m the man at the table who lingers a little too long over my dinner. It’s not that I really enjoy your company all that much, but it sure beats going home to an empty house and a closet full of my late wife’s clothes that I can’t bear to let go of.

Do you see me? I am that widow sharing memes on social media about love and loss. Somehow it makes me feel closer, if only for a moment, to the one I lost. I live for the day we are reunited.

Do you see me? I am a tough-as-nails woman who is used to being in control. But I have no control over this. I can’t stop my loved one’s death process, and I am having to learn how to be okay with losing control. I am having to learn how to wear my heart on my sleeve and still be seen as strong.

Do you see us? We are a devastated couple. We tried so hard for so long to experience that pregnancy, but that baby just wasn’t to be. How do we move past this grief? How do we get the courage to try again?

Do you see us? We are the group gathered around the cafe table, all caught in the loneliness of having lost our spouse, seeking companionship from those who have experienced the same. We talk of them and share fond memories, and for a little while they live on in our words.

Do you see us? We are family, yet today marks the anniversary of one who went too soon. We share the photos, pledging to never forget, and try to somehow not feel guilty for still being in this world.

Do you see us? We are just kids. We don’t really understand about loss and grief. All we know is we miss our person. We want to talk about him, but when we do, our mama cries. Then we feel guilty, so we keep quiet, holding our memories close to our heart.

To the world, we look okay. But on the inside we are struggling. Do you see our struggle? Do you even notice? There is pain all around us. Everywhere we look, people are suffering silently from grief and loss. Some are holding on by a thread, taking each day as it comes, waiting for someone to acknowledge their pain. Others are more verbal about it, but their words don’t quite match their inner pain.

I have found through my own recent experience of too many losses in too little time that grief can be all-consuming if we let it. It is a constant battle to acknowledge your grief, believe it is necessary, yet not let it take over your every thought. It is a fine balancing act between letting yourself experience the loss and moving forward.

How do you do it? For me, the answer is simple. God has some beautiful words on grief that are found in the pages of His precious message to us. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed spirit. (Psalm 34:18). Thank you Lord that just like a protective father, you stay close to us in our storms and valleys. He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3). Thank you Jesus that our hearts can find healing in You. Thank you that you are able to take a broken heart and piece it back together. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4). How beautiful it is when we feel the precious hand of Jesus upon us, bringing us comfort in our pain and sorrow. What a blessing it is to be comforted by our Savior. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10). God never leaves us. He walks with us through our darkest places and pulls us back into the light. He holds us in His arms as we battle through our pain, and gives us strength to face each day. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life, (Psalm 119:50). Yes, we grieve. Yes, we feel the pain of loss deep within us. But God promises to be our strength. He promises to never leave us. He promises a joyful reuni9n for all who know Him. It is those promises that keep us moving forward, nudging us back into “living” and learning to find a new “normal” in our days, months, and years.

BALANCE

I have noticed many on social media declaring their “word” for 2018. It’s that time of year when we are putting away the old and looking forward to the new. What does God have in store for this new year? What opportunities will there be to serve him? So, I have pondered over the last few days, trying to decide what word best suits my hopes for 2018. The word that keeps coming back to me is…BALANCE.

I hope that I am able to balance all that God has so graciously given me. I want to do a better job of balancing my role as mama and wife with my role as business owner and ministry leader. I want to balance my time better so that I can do more of what he has called me to do…write and speak of Jesus, and encourage others through the words he gives me. I want to balance my “to do“ list with my “want to do” list. I want to balance my laughter with my tears. (My tears tipped the scales in 2017) I want to balance my friendships and weed out those that cause me struggles. I want to balance the opinion I have of myself so that is is more in line with the opinion my Savior has of me.I will remind myself that confidence isn’t arrogance. I want to give my courage a little more balance against my fears and go for the things Jesus is holding out his hand and offering to me.

I want to balance my “to do“ list with my “want to do” list. Click To Tweet

Yes…BALANCE is my word. How will I achieve it? Through lots of prayer, through believing that I am more than a conqueror, through knowing I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, through knowing He calls me Friend, through looking in the mirror and seeing one who is more precious than rubies, and through knowing I was created for such a time as this. Look out 2018….here I come‼!