more than a feeling

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focusing on feelings 

leaves my heart reeling 

and my goal becomes 

a far distant dream 

but when I instead

plan each step ahead  

the destination’s 

not as far 

as it seems 

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I had an “aha” moment this morning.  Yeah, that happens occasionally- but not as often as I’d like 🙂

I really wanted to start working out again- for no other reason than it’s good for your body to move.  I needed to do something that was easy and didn’t require a lot of thought, so I decided to download one of those “couch to 5k” apps.  I love those because it takes the guesswork out of your workouts.  3 days a week, all I have to do is start the app and get on the treadmill and it tells me when to run and when to walk.  Easy enough!

Until this past week.

I have been doing this for 4 weeks now, and instead of getting easier- it is definitely getting more challenging.  I haven’t missed a single workout, and I have run/walked every minute the app has told me to.

But this morning I got up and dreaded it.  I knew I’d be running for even longer bursts today… and I was already tired before I even got out of bed! But I had already laid out what I needed to “get my workout on” the night before

“Stop thinking about how you feel, ” I kept saying to myself over and over.  “Just do it!” 

I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and slipped on the headband.  I went through all the steps… and then my oldest daughter saw me in the kitchen.

“What in the world are you doing?” she asked me when she saw my crazy head gear and my outfit.

“I’m trying to get in the mood to do the treadmill this morning.”

And as I had this conversation with her this morning, I was struck with the idea that my girls are always watching me.  Not just what I say to them- but what I do.

I want to be a person of my word- someone who follows through. Someone who sets goals and accomplishes them.  I always talk to the girls about how important it is to not to be led by their “feelings”… and here I was, ready to take the morning off from working out- simply because I didn’t “feel” like doing it.

But the simple action of doing what I had planned on doing the night before kept me on track.

My shoes were by my bed when I woke up.  Headband was put on my night stand.  And I slept in my workout clothes (yes- they were clean!)

So I went downstairs and as soon as I took the first step on the treadmill, it was like He was carrying me.  He gave me every ounce of energy I needed to complete my goal.

I finished, and came upstairs to both girls sitting on the couch.

They asked how my run was.

It was hard, but good.  It wasn’t easy- but nothing worth doing ever is!

And the best part?

My daughter said she’s going to get on the treadmill when she gets home today, too.

“Failing to plan… is planning to fail.” 

Set your mind on things above- Colossians 3:2 

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good things come…

Isn’t it funny how some days don’t seem to start off on the right foot…and then by the end of the day, you look back and see how it was one of the very best days?

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The gorgeous moon at the end of my day! 

I woke up one day with a feeling of dread.  There were several things I had to do, and some days “adulting” is hard work, lol!  But there is an undeniable feeling like I’ve conquered the world when those tasks are accomplished!  I set aside my “feelings” and got right to getting my business done.

Around lunchtime that day, I stopped in to see someone who was in the hospital.  After the visit, I meandered through the lobby and heard the sounds of Christmas Carols being played on the grand piano.  I decided to sit for a few minutes to take in the music.  So often I am the one playing the piano- and it was so nice to be on the other end and to be able to appreciate this lady’s musical gift.  After a few songs,  the Lord prompted me to go into the cafe to get a cup of coffee.  It was a little strange for me to do- since I had JUST had a cup, but I got up and got into the line.  An older gentleman was ahead of me in the line, and he turned around to me and said this-

“I’ve been here a looooong time… and I want to warn you- this lady isn’t very fast.”  He smiled as he said it- so I could tell he wasn’t in a big hurry.

I said to him- “What’s that saying- good things come to those who wait?  Hopefully whatever we’re getting will be worth the wait!”

He asked me if I worked at the hospital, and I told him no- that I was visiting someone.  I told him I was a pastor and shared with him the various things I do at my church.  He then said he was here with his wife, who had lots of health issues. They used to go to church but recently stopped attending.  We had the nicest conversation and like that- the line had dwindled and he made his purchase.

I paid for my cup of coffee and saw the gentleman sitting with his wife just outside of the coffee shop.  I walked over to them and I introduced myself to his beautiful wife.  You would have never known she was sick.  She was stunning- I would even say she was glowing that day.

“Would you mind if I prayed for you?”  I asked the lady.

“I would love that.”

I knelt down and put my arms around them both and prayed.  I watched them reach for each others hands.  They were holding their hands so tightly together that I could see them shaking.

It was such a beautiful moment.

The carols being played on the piano across the room… people passing by… couples sitting in the cafe…

and you know who else was present?

Jesus.

Good things will always come when we walk with Jesus.

He Himself IS GOOD and He is always up to something good around us-

if we will keep our eyes open!

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.- Zephaniah 3:17 

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Morning Praise

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O God, inspire our morning hymn
Of love and gratitude;
Oh, bless the sacrifice we bring,
Thou Source of every good.

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Thy miracle of love so sweet
Preserved us all secure;
While helpless in unconscious sleep,
Thy presence kept us pure.

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’Tis blest to rise, O Lord, and join
With nature’s minstrelsy;
To hymn Thy praise at early morn,
And offer thanks to Thee.

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Sweet morning is the time to pray;
How lovely and how meet,
To send our early thoughts away
Up to the mercy seat.

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The glorious sun has driven far
The mystic shades of night;
So in our souls the morning star
Hath shed His wondrous light.

A Hymn of Morning Praise by Daniel S. Warner

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less is more

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Less is more.

Even when it comes to the words we say.

My husband says I’m the queen of the 3 minute sermon.  Having led worship at our church nearly every Sunday for the past 10 years, I’ve pretty much gotten the mini sermonette down to an art.

Less is more.

When I speak, what point am I trying to make?  How will my words point people to Jesus?  Will my words distract from or impact people for Jesus?

And if I’m honest with. myself- shouldn’t I use this criteria to measure ALL of my words? Whether I’m leading worship, speaking to my husband or children, or out and about running errands… ALL of my words should honor Jesus.

Less is more.

Less complaining.  Less judging. Less criticism.  Less unsolicited opinions.

Less mindless chatter.

Sometimes when there’s an awkward silence, I want to fill it up with words.

But those silent moments are when I hear Him most clearly.

When words are many, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19 

what matters most

Time is an extremely valuable commodity.

With every passing day, I am more aware of how precious our time is and how important it is to spend it wisely.  Lately, I have found great joy in spending time with my husband and daughters.  As the girls are getting older, I thoroughly enjoy our shopping excursions, our deep discussions, and binge-watching tv shows with them.  And as the girls have matured, my hubby and I have been able to spend more time together- going to the movies, going out to dinner… it is a wonderful new season we are in!

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Last night, my hubby jokingly said that our house wasn’t the cleanest.

True.  Very true.

And my response?

“maybe not, but it’s full of LOVE!” 

“Yes it is!”

And that’s what matters most to me.

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I am so thankful to have a hubby who “gets” me.  Who tells me to order take out for dinner because he knows I’m tired- and honestly- I don’t enjoy cooking either.  Who knows that if I don’t spend quiet time at the piano every day, my mood suffers.  A hubby who encourages me to write and be creative and to do all the things that bring me joy.   And I’m thankful for girls who want the shared experience with me of watching our favorite shows together, who don’t expect 4-course home-cooked meals, and who make me friendship bracelets.

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How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  

James 4:14

forever young

Recently, I was reminded that “youth” is all about perspective…

With teenage daughters, it’s easy for me to feel old and out of touch with the youth culture.  I often have to ask them what slang words and current sayings mean.

But as I walked through the grocery store the other day, I caught the twinkling blue eyes of a gray haired lady, leaning heavily on her shopping cart- squinting to make out my face.

“Are you Amy?” she called out to me.  She looked at me like she was trying to remember who I was.  I didn’t recall ever seeing her before.

“No, I’m sorry.  My name’s Julie.”

She said she thought she knew me from somewhere. Then, she began to tell me how she missed being able to do all the simple things I take for granted- like grocery shopping without getting out of breath,  standing up straight and walking without leaning on a cart, being able to see without straining…

She smiled as she began to move her cart past me and said this-

“You better enjoy your youth while you have it!”

A brief, but meaningful conversation- and a great reminder for me to appreciate all the little things I am able to effortlessly do at my youthful age of 42 🙂

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A gray head is a crown of glory.  

It is found in the way of righteousness- Proverbs 16:21

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What’s on your billboard?

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If you had the opportunity to put up a billboard to advertise anything– what would it be?

As I sat in the drive thru line at a McDonalds recently, a parked minivan grabbed my attention.  It was white, had a ladder on top of it, and I knew it had to be a work vehicle.  But there was something different about it- on both sides of the van there was a picture of the cross with the words ‘One Way” and then beside the picture it said- “Christ” The WAY to heaven- John 14:6.  The license plate was also a reference to the same scripture.

It struck me how profound this was.

In a day where people want to advertise EVERYTHING-

their businesses,

their political affiliations,

etc…

here was someone using their “billboard” to point people to Jesus!

Over the front tires on either side in very small print was the name of their business and a phone number.  I just happened to see that the business was called “Schock Electric”.

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What an encouragement to see this today- and a great reminder to think about this – what are you advertising?

 

Jesus IS the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.

 

the best is yet to come

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Time keeps ticking away, and some days I wanna hit the “pause” button.

In a few short weeks, we will have been in our home for 15 years.  I can’t even wrap my mind around that!  When we first moved here, my oldest was a baby, and we didn’t have my youngest until the next summer.  I had my life all planned out- I’d teach lessons for a few years and then we would move back to our hometown…

and then that didn’t happen.

I always felt like I was waiting for the next move, or the next big thing.  Little did I know- that big thing for me was God calling me into ministry- right here! And what a blessing it has been to follow Him and serve Him- even when “following Him” means staying put.

But I keep thinking about how quickly these 15 years have gone… and how quickly my girls will be grown.  This mom can’t bear the thought of all the changes that will happen in the next few years!

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I have found myself CONSTANTLY saying “I can’t believe how fast these years are going by…”  I recently joked with my husband that this is how I begin all of my conversations with him.

And then the other day- I leashed the dogs up to take them outside, and as I stepped off of each stair of our front porch- I heard the creaking of weathered wood and saw the rusty nails.  Again, I began to think of all the years I carried my babies up those stairs- and how even the front porch has aged!

And in a split second, I felt the Lord nudge me and He whispered-

Stop looking behind you- there’s SO MUCH for you to look forward to.  

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It was a brief moment, but one that has shifted this nostalgic mindset of mine!

He is always doing something NEW…

and if this momma is so busy lamenting and thinking about the past-

I might miss it 🙂

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,  Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 

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He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. — Psalm 40:3

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all things are becoming NEW

Seasons come

and seasons go 

but they always cycle back 

you know?

An old skill resurrected- 

I’ll teach 

new lives

for my heart to reach! 

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I am super excited to do something old today… well, I mean NEW!

When I got out of college, I began teaching music in public school. I loved my job, but I knew it would only be for a “season”. Once I knew I was expecting our first daughter, I wanted to be at home with her. I started teaching voice and piano lessons in my home and it worked out perfectly for a season while my girls were little… and then as the girls got older and began going to school, the afternoon/evening schedule became harder for our family. What a blessing it was that once I decided to not take on any new students, gradually they moved on to other things. I was on staff part time at church, and as my responsibilities increased there- my students decreased until I had none.

It has been nearly 7 years since I have taught voice and piano lessons, and for some strange reason I have wanted to start to teach again. I love pouring my musical passion into others and helping to cultivate their skills. I love watching those “aha” moments when your students really grasp a new concept, reach a new level in their musical understanding… and I LOVE recitals! Watching students grow and bloom and become more confident is the most amazing thing! My goal in teaching is not to make the next musical prodigy- but to make them fall in love with the craft of making music!

I recently reached out to a local music studio and they happened to be in need of a voice teacher. It’s only 10 minutes from my house and I am going to teach one afternoon a week. The set up is perfect for me. The girls are in high school and are self sufficient now and another blessing- I don’t have to keep my whole house clean (like I did when I taught in my home!) Woohoo!! And while I am still on staff and work part time at church, I can easily add an afternoon of teaching to my schedule.

So today is my day 1-and all of my time slots are filled! I have 7 voice students and one piano student, and I can’t wait to meet them today 🙂

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are becoming new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

GO!

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I think I think a lot about 

nostalgic memories 

how thing were, the way they are, 

and what might come to be 

too much time I spend in thought 

so I thought that you should know   

I think my motto for the year is simply just to-

“GO” 

My mind can be my own worst enemy.  So many thoughts and ideas all at once, and it’s hard to slow my brain down at times.  And I can overthink the simplest things- like fretting over stopping by the grocery store.  Because more than likely I am already running late, and what if I see someone I know?  Then it might make me even LATER because I have to stop and speak to them!  And by the time I have thought this through, I have already added 5 extra minutes to my lateness!  I’ve got to stop overthinking stupid stuff and just GO to the store when I need to GO!

I’ve gotten better over this past year… making lists and checking them twice- umm I mean checking them off… obeying whatever the Lord tells me to do with less hesitation…letting go of all sorts of stuff that holds me back.  But I’ve got more work to do!

So, here’s to less thinking/analyzing, and more GO!

Onward, Christian soldiers, 
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
GOing on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner GO!

Therefore, GO and make disciples of all nations…

Matthew 28:19