finish your own sentences

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While I am not slim by any means, I do try to take care of myself.  I watch what I eat and exercise at least 4-5 times a week.  My girls have joined me in this quest to be in the best shape we can be, and so the three of us- along with one of the girls’ friends- went to run/walk at a local track.

I was so proud of the girls!  They kept on going, even when they got tired.  They commented that they stopped before they had wanted to.  But you showed up-I told them in my best “Jillian Michaels” voice… I’m proud of you!

As I ran, I passed by two elderly ladies.  They seemed quite surprised that a girl of my size was running, and I could tell that each time I passed them they made comments about me. I know I don’t look like an athlete or anything, but I am healthy.  The last lap I heard them say “That girl in front of us- that girl with those big wide hips…”

Fortunately, that was all I heard before I was out of ear shot of their comment.  Usually, that’s all it takes to get me in a bad mood… to discourage me from working out in front of other people.  Honestly, I didn’t know how they finished that sentence, but I had a feeling it was not positive.  But 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ!  As I kept running, He told me to finish it…

And so as I jogged along, He brought to mind all of the things that I’ve accomplished, and all I have to be thankful for…

 this girl with those big, wide hips-

-is BLESSED to be ALIVE and have breath in her lungs and legs to RUN with

-has given birth to two awesome, amazing girls

-lost over 100 lbs before I had my children

-loves her curves… because that’s the way He made me

-is trying to set a good example for her girls by taking the best care of her body that she can

-got a college degree and worked multiple jobs to pay for it (and I’m STILL paying those loans!!)

-knows where to find her SELF-WORTH…. in CHRIST ALONE!

-has a stronger walk with the Lord than ever before

You- yes, YOU,  are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Don’t let anyone else try to finish your sentence.  Give God that pen and let Him write it for you.  By His grace, He will turn it into something beautiful.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end-  Ecclesiastes 3:11

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O Light of light, shine in!

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O Light of light, shine in!
Cast out this night of sin,
Create true day within:
O Light of light, shine in!IMG_1321

O Light, all light excelling,
Make my heart Thy dwelling;
O Joy, all grief dispelling,
To my poor heart come in!IMG_1287

O Joy of joys, come in!
End Thou this grief of sin,
Create calm peace within:
O Joy of joys, come in!
 

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O Life of life, pour in!
Expel this death of sin,
Awake true life within:
O Life of life, pour in!IMG_1292

O Love of love, flow in!
This hateful root of sin
Deal with, renew, within:
O Love of love, flow in!
 

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O Heaven of heavens, descend!
This cloudy curtain rend,
And all earth’s turmoil end:
O Heaven of heavens, descend!IMG_1299

My God and Lord, O come!
  Of joys the Joy and Sum,
Make in this heart Thy home:
  My God and Lord, O come!  

*Lyrics by Horatius Bonar(1808-1889)

The weather this week has been amazing!  Spring is FINALLY sprung and so have the vibrant colors of the season.  The other day I walked my favorite trail with a couple of friends.
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The sun was so bright, I borrowed a friend’s hat to protect my eyes.  Even with the hat, I found myself looking down at the ground to keep from squinting.  I began to get a headache and felt sick to my stomach as I watched the wooden slats beneath my feet moving back and forth.

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I can’t remember ever experiencing “motion sickness” from walking!  But the odd thing was that the moment I mentioned it, my friend said she, too, felt that same way.

IMG_1287“We must stop looking down and keep looking forward, ” spoke my wise friend! 

A simple statement, but a profound reminder to keep my eyes fixed on the path ahead, and not the ground.

And maybe a pair of sunglasses wouldn’t hurt next time 🙂

Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:25-26

the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light

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And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  

John 1:5

We wanted to do something as a “family” this past weekend- just the four of us. I admit, I wanted to do the “mom” thing and go see some holiday lights- while the rest of the family wanted to go to the movies.

So imagine how happy I was when they decided to do what I wanted to do!

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You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

  Matthew 5:14

We went to see the Holiday Lights at the Richmond Botanical Gardens and it was truly magical! We had such a wonderful time laughing, posing for pictures, and just being together.  We held hands, skipped down the walkways, and took in the beautiful lights all around us!

It was good to feel like a giddy kid again, and to be making memories with the ones I love the most!

And it made even more special to know that they wanted to go because they knew it would bring me much joy!

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Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come on you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes.  John 12:35

As we walked, the darker the night sky got- the more brilliantly the lights did shine!

May the beautiful sights and holiday lights of this season remind you of the greatest gift of all-

the Light of the World- Jesus!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

Isaiah 9:6

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light 

1 Peter 2:9

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Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.  

Ephesians 5:14

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Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

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When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.

 Psalm 94:19

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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 Merry Christmas!

Create in me…

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Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51

Today I am excited to collaborate with some lovely people who write for the blog church set free!  We are all writing about what worship means to us.  I hope you will visit the site and that it will encourage you in your journey to knowing and growing closer to Him…  

Psalm 51, for me, defines what worship is all about.  It is through the process of “creating” that He inspires me to worship, drawing me closer to Him.  My love for God compels me to create (sing, write music, poetry, take photographs) and as I worship, He is at work within me- renewing me, purifying my heart, and filling me with joy!

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Worship is how I connect to Him. I pour out my heart to Him and seek to know Him more. Worship is loving God, and allowing His love to flow through me in my everyday life. I am learning how to love Him more every single day…and that all begins with worship.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1

Worship in itself is an act of obedience. He is worthy of our praise- no matter how we feel or what our circumstances are because He is God!  I worship Him by allowing Him to use all of my life for His glory.  As someone who is a creative person, it is a challenge to “create” when I do not feel inspired…but it is through that process that He fills me.  Even though worship is not based on emotion- there is no greater joy for me than feeling His presence when I am sitting at the piano creating music.

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For we live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

This is a song I wrote based on Psalm 51 last week. Singing and creating music is a huge part of how I worship and connect with Him. Last week, I was not feeling very “joyful”- but through the process of creating music, He was at work- restoring the joy of His salvation within me.  And praise the Lord, today I can honestly say- He has restored my joy!

the fog lifted…

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perspective changes 

when the fog lifts- we see what 

was there all along

Speaking of fog…over the summer I got to “view” this gorgeous place-  Swannanoa Palace … and it just so happened to be under a heavy blanket of fog that day- adding to the mysterious but still lovely atmosphere.  I had the joy of going back to Swannanoa with my sister and a dear friend recently, to catch a glimpse of the clear mountain views and to take a few more pictures.

I am so thankful for the visit with my sister and our childhood friend!  It doesn’t matter how much time has passed between seeing each other- it’s like no time has passed at all when we are together…and it’s just like we’re kids again!

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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panoramic views from the Palace tower

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crystal clear view from the palace tower

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panoramic views from the tower

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the overgrown, but still beautiful pergola

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the pergola on a perfect fall day

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I found this little ivy covered bridge in the garden

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can you imagine waking up to a view like this every day?!

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a view to remember…the Blue Ridge Mountains

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The stunning foliage around the water tower

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Have you ever seen a hydrangea bush this big?!

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The best view of all… my girls and their cousins!

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The water tower (or Rapunzel’s tower… as I like to call it)

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the view of the gardens from the stairwell

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The best view of all… my sister, my dear friend, and our wee ones 🙂

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Swannanoa Palace

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The stained glass TIffany window

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The magnificent stairwell

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The only way to have a friend is to be one

– Ralph Waldo Emerson  

squinting in a fog

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the fog had settled 

low and warm 

upon the ground 

and without form 

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a silent blanket

waits for night

hiding in the wake

of twilight

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keeping watch for coming stars

that hang down from the sky afar

expectantly I wait for Him 

even as the day grows dim

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!  

1 Corinthians 13:12

Even when I can’t see through my circumstances- I trust Him 

Even in moments of doubt- I have faith in His promises

Even when I don’t understand- I know His thoughts and ways are higher

He is good and is always worthy of my praise

Our Heavenly Father always knows best!

Emptied to be Filled

  

Blessings abound

When I give what I’ve found

Emptied so I can be 

Filled

Each moment I find

Greater peace of mind

When I obey Him 

And follow His will 

Last spring I found an abundance of 4 leaf clovers. This year- not so much.  I found one a few weeks ago as I was talking with a friend in my driveway, and I gave it to her. 

Every day I take the same walk- always scanning clover patches as my dog sniffs and tarries. Usually I am talking to God and praying, but the other day I started thinking- where have all those clovers gone? Am I just not looking in the right place? Am I giving up too easily? It is easy to do things when you get immediate results. When you have to put time into it, well…sometimes it doesn’t seem worth the effort. 

But for some reason, I had to find one 4 leaf clover that morning. I searched, I talked to God, and when my dog was ready to move on, I tarried…and just the moment I felt like turning away- there it was! A beautiful, humongous 4 leaf clover- standing tall above the rest of them- like it had been planted there just for me.

As soon as I picked it, I saw an elderly man walking towards me.  Give him the clover! I heard a little voice within me say. What if he thinks I’m weird? I argued back. Just do it! You will regret it if you don’t! And like that, it was settled. 

As I continued walking, the elderly man approached me. “It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it!” he greeted me.

“It sure is!” I smiled and extended my hand to give him the 4 leaf clover. “It’s going to be a great day,” I told him. “This is for you!” He grinned a child-like grin as he reached for the 4 leaf clover, and we parted ways. 

I glanced down at my feet, and much to my surprise- there was another 4 leaf clover waiting for me. Isn’t it funny that I would walk for weeks and not find a single one- but the minute I find one and give it away- He multiplies it?

When we empty ourselves- He fills us up again! 

And if you look for it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.-Proverbs 2:4-5

Breaking the (food) chain

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peel me like an onion

heavy on the layers

I shed the outer skin

as I go to You in prayer

crying as I’m sliced up

a little more, I’m diced up 

I’m ready for the next plan

dump me in the pan

straight into the fryer 

turn the heat up higher

cook me till I’m done 

I’m in refiner’s fire

the hotter I’m becoming 

the more clearly I can see

molting all these layers 

leads me to transparency 

Tears welled in my eyes as I sliced the onion in half. I broke through that top layer of skin, and the tears freely flowed down my face.  Onions have a funny way of doing that to me.

I tossed them into the hot frying pan to sauté them. They sizzled as I stirred them back and forth. I was no longer tearing up, but noticed the sweetness of the aroma.  After they had been sautéd, their translucency was striking.  

Isn’t it something that an onion could be so drastically different in appearance, in taste, aroma, and in sight- after experiencing a little bit of “heat”?  Honestly, I don’t like being uncomfortable.  That’s why we all like comfort food, right?  It makes us feel good.  But it’s only an emotional reaction- not the real thing.

For  my entire life, I have used food for reward, punishment, pleasure, and emotional comfort.

I’m tired of being comfortable. I want to be all God wants me to be- and I really do believe that He wants me to be free from this ridiculous food obsession.

I woke up this morning, ready to cook some eggs, and I tried to tell myself that it was what I really wanted for breakfast.  Not true. I really just wanted a ginormous bowl of oatmeal.  But more than oatmeal, I want to break that chain…the never ending cycle of obsessing over food and using food for comfort.

And the only answer is more Jesus. And less self-gratification.

Less of me (literally and figuratively)…more of Him.

I’ve jumped into the frying pan with both feet, I’m feeling the heat, and I’m ready to be changed!

God- make me uncomfortable so I find comfort in YOU not FOOD! 

eat to live, not live to eat

There is power in His Name to break every chain!

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 

Pi Day

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How could I ever deny 

a day that’s devoted to pi?

I partake without care

blissfully unaware

that it finds a new home on my thigh! 

My oldest daughter celebrated “pi” day at school yesterday. She asked me to come for a special activity her class was doing to celebrate- including eating pie, of course!  Anytime my 12 year old asks me to be a part of her day- I am there with bells on!  Due to the busy-ness of our week, I had not purchased any pies ahead of time. I decided to go to the store first thing in the morning, and much to my surprise- there were no pre-baked pies.  I guess people really do plan ahead, lol!  The entire bakery shelf was bare. I am thankful I minded His “nudge” to get out early to buy the frozen ones that I had to bake.  

On a side note- my daughter added before she left to get on the bus- 

“Momma- don’t forget to wear your “skinny jeans!”  

False advertising at it’s finest!

I smiled…just maybe one day those jeans will do what they say! 

Signs and wonders

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Cross in the sky

Signs and wonders in the sky

cross of hope displayed on high 

Your cross of glory, true and clear

The sound of silence in my ear

Peaceful beauty, Presence close

In You, and only You I boast

Signs and wonders in the sky

Your splendor captivates my eye

The ladies from our church went on a retreat this weekend.  There were so many wonderful moments, but this one was pretty awesome!  Several of us went up on a hill to watch the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It was exceptionally chilly, but gorgeous!  When you reach the top of the hill, there is a 365 degree view of the mountains.

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music…”  I couldn’t help myself.  Each time I climbed up there, I had to burst into the song from the Sound of Music.  After all, it is my phone’s ringtone!   And the opening scene from the movie is exactly what it felt like being up there.

“Listen!” I said to my dear friend.

It was completely silent.  The atmosphere was so still, I could hear myself breathing.

  Overwhelming peace, and the presence of my Savior flooded my soul.

We quietly took pictures and my friend showed me her camera.  The camera showed a crystal-clear cross in the sky… but the strange thing was that looking in the sky, you could not see the horizontal line of the cross, only the vertical line.  And to the left of the cross, the wispy cloud resembled a dove.

There were signs of Him- of His presence with us all weekend.

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There are signs of His great love for us everywhere when we are looking for Him

a word of encouragement from a friend

an unwarranted hug from my girls

“I love you” texts from my hubby

smiles from strangers

His steadfast love abounds!

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.  Psalm 86:15