You can’t hide under the umbrella forever

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 I love being a mom, but some days it breaks my heart.  

One of the most difficult aspects of motherhood is re-living my own childhood through my daughters. The older they get, the more I see myself in them. One of them in particular is very sensitive- like me.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and always wants everything to be harmonious.  When anything is not as it should be- she is in turmoil.  

Some mornings I will wake up with a pit in my stomach- an uneasy feeling that I just can’t shake.  It doesn’t take long to remember whatever the situation is that is making me feel uneasy. Occasionally when this happens, I will go into “hiding”…take shelter in my home and spend time with my best friend- Jesus.  

When my girls got home from school the other day, it was clear that one of them wanted to go into “hiding”.  The day did not go as she had hoped.  We sat outside and chatted while I did yard work.  As I trimmed the the shrubs, my daughter grabbed a giant umbrella off our porch and proceeded to sit down in the grass and open it. The umbrella was so big, it nearly hid her whole body from me.  It could not have been a more beautiful day to be outside.  

“Mom, this is how I feel today,” my daughter said as she hung her head low.

“Oh, Baby… I know just what you mean… Even Momma has days like that.  I have many days when I feel like hiding under an umbrella, too.”

And as I talked to her, I realized that as she held that giant, black umbrella, the beauty of the sunshine was being blocked from her. 

“But you know what? You can’t hide under that giant umbrella forever.  You gotta get out from under it so His Son can shine on you!”

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.  Psalm 30:5

And as I spoke these words to her, I realized that I, too, must get out from under my umbrella on those days I want to hide away.  It’s ok to take time away to re-charge…but too much time can lead to self-pity. We’ve gotta pack our pity party bags and leave them at the feet of Jesus…and trust the situation to Him.

Often when I choose to hide, I miss out on His blessings. Just maybe He wants to use you to be an umbrella for someone else today… but we have to put down our own, first…

 

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And after our heart-to-heart, that’s just what my girl did!  

But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat.   Isaiah 25:4

Blog Tour

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One of the things I love the most about blogging is finding and connecting with other awesome bloggers!  A talented, fellow blogger, Lorrie Bowden, has graciously invited me to join her virtual blog tour in this post.  She writes inspirational poetry, and has an eye for photographing the beauty around her.  Lorrie never fails to lift my spirits with her positive posts and her encouraging words. Her tag line is “Blessitude- I am so blessed and full of gratitude” and this shows in every thing she writes. Please visit her lovely blog!

The rules are to invite three other bloggers to join the tour, and to give them a Monday to post on.  I am asking them to post on Monday, August 3rd. Then, they are to answer 4 questions about their writing…

  1. My first blogger is January, who blogs at  http://coffeewithashotoffaith.wordpress.com.  I am blessed to have her as not only a blogger friend, but a friend in real life as well.  She is a fantastic writer who shares straight from her heart about her personal walk with Christ, raising her three children – including one with special needs – and also about her ministry. Her openness and honesty in her writing is truly beautiful to read!
  2. The second blogger is Tanya, who blogs at  http://godscharacter.wordpress.com  She is one of the first bloggers I connected with when I started blogging. She has written several series of posts, including “A Family That Prays Together” and “Find us Faithful”. She shares scriptures and often writes about parenting.  Her love for the Lord shines through in her writing. Her posts are heartfelt, sweet, and always uplifting!  
  3. The third blogger is Chris Ludbrook, who blogs at http://unhiddenlight.com.  He has a wide variety of things on his blog- including original music he has written, poetry, and essays. A Christian, he describes his blog as a place to share his journey: “This is about letting my light shine, no longer will I live in the fear of who I am, my light is bright & beautiful & it’s time I stopped hiding it.”

I am also going to mention a 4th blog-  http://brittanymoultroup.wordpress.com.   Brittany is a worship leader with a lovely voice and a beautiful heart for following Christ.  I always look forward to reading her thoughts on scripture and worship! 

I hope you take the time to visit these wonderful blogs.  I truly enjoy following and reading each one of their posts!!  

Here are the answers to my four questions…

What are you working on/writing? 

I am currently working on recording a CD of original Christian songs I have written over the last few years.  It is a work in progress, and I am excited to be on this journey!  It has been a long process, but I am soaking up every new thing I learn along the way. I try to write blog posts once or twice a week, and write music or poetry as the Lord inspires me. Most of my creative focus is devoted to serving Him and leading the worship ministry at my church.  

How does your work/writing differ from others of its genre? 

I think everyone has a unique voice. I don’t write to be different- my writing is an expression of my heart and of my love for God. 

Why do you write/create what you do?

Most of the songs I write come out of spending quiet time with the Lord.  They are my personal,  heart-felt prayers, experiences, and desires put to music. Several of the songs I have written have been a collaboration with my husband.  He writes beautiful lyrics and I have set them to music. I began playing piano when I was about 10, and started making up my own songs right away. Funny enough, my first song was called “Sunset”…which is fitting because 25 years later, that’s what I love to photograph most- sunsets!  I love to take photos of His beautiful creation and sing His praises… so I create out of having a desire to share what God has done- and continues to do-in my life. I write out of obedience to Him.  

How does your working/writing process work?

I have to be inspired!  Most times, when I write a song it comes together in a very short time- a matter of minutes.  I don’t make myself write if I am not in the mood to do it.  So, I basically wait for Him to inspire me- and then it flows. He is always faithful and gives me MUCH to write about! 

Thanks for reading and I hope you take the time to visit these other blogs! Be Blessed!

 

 

The Reason

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Our evening sky as I looked to Him last night…

When I question everything

and all that I hold dear

when I bring it all to You

I feel Your presence in my tears

I know You are here

 

When I’m feeling like a fish

out of water in my own skin

like a jagged puzzle piece

that’s just not fitting in

I know I fit in with You

 

I’m no longer looking back

I’m looking up to You

You’re the only reason

for everything I do  

 

You’re the reason I sing

You’re the reason for living

In your presence i bring

a song of offering

You are the reason I sing

 

When I’m feeling all alone

Like no one understands

You remind me You’re enough

and to rest within Your hands 

All I need is You

 

You remind me that my home 

is not a place I’m sitting in 

and that peace is found in You

I let go and let You in

I know You are here

 

I’m no longer looking back

I’m looking up to You

You are the only the reason

for everything I do. 

 

 

Light exposes darkness….and unwanted critters

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Light exposes the true character of everything  Ephesians 5:13

 The light coming from the moon was so bright the other night.  As I pulled into the driveway, I didn’t even need a porch light to get into my house.  The pathway leading to my door was perfectly illuminated by the moonlight.

Light exposes darkness.

We had a slight problem recently.  It seems that one of my fabulous thrift store furniture finds brought an unwanted guest into my home- roaches.  Yes, I shudder even typing the “r” word. It is no secret that they like the dark.  Is is any wonder that these detestable pests scamper at the first sign of light?  I crept into the kitchen many times in fear as I flipped on the light switch…fortunately I only saw one or two run for cover, but I knew there had to be more.

I could have left it alone, and kept spraying the one or two that I would see, but I knew if there were one or two, that there had to be more hiding- in my walls, cabinets, other tiny crevasses that harbored snug hiding places…

Which got me thinking- how many times have I tried to mask something that was happening on a deeper level in my personal life?  I can paint smiles on my face and stuff away feelings, but unless I go to God about all things, they will always be there, lurking in the darkness.

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.  Psalm 119:18

When I come to Him, just as I am, I don’t want to stay that way. I want Him to change me.  I want Him to disinfect every area of my heart that offends Him.  I don’t want any sin critters running rampant inside of me, I want them all gone!

It is so easy to make excuses for ourselves and to continue to mess up and do the same things again and again… but we don’t have to!  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can be free from the things that are holding us down, keeping us from living a life of abundant joy and peace.  And praise the  Lord- my not-so-friendly critters are gone!!

We all need a little help sometimes

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.   Matthew 6:26

It’s the little things that make me happy!   In a previous post , I shared how I found a bird’s nest on my front door.  My girls and I have been anxiously waiting for these little guys to hatch!  We peeked into the nest every day to see how these jelly-bean sized eggs were doing…

Image And then last week it happened….

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I looked into the nest just as they were coming out of their shells!

I peeked a little while later, and they were soundly sleeping…

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and then the last one finally made his way out…

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And they all snuggled together…

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Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning, I awoke to a loud noise.  Thinking it was coming from my children’s room, I quickly went in and checked on them.  Everything seemed fine, so I went back to sleep.  When I got up to begin the morning routine, I glanced outside my front door to check on the bird’s nest.  Much to my dismay, I found the basket’s ribbon had come undone from the door, and the entire basket had fallen down onto the porch.  I looked at those tiny baby birds scattered on the porch, and didn’t know what to do.  I feared the worst. I got the girls out of bed and told them about the nest.  We looked outside and my oldest said “Mom,  one of them is moving!”  Sure enough, they were moving their little beaks ever so slowly.  A friend came over and helped me get them all back into the nest, and  fortunately- they all seemed to be ok. I prayed that their momma would come back and take care of them.  Before I knew it, I heard rustling on my front door!  Momma was back and I don’t think she has left their side.

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:2

I have a little bit of “momma bird” in me, too-  I like to think that I have everything under control.  We can build a happy home, plan and prepare for the day’s events, but sometimes our baskets get too heavy – and they come crashing down.  There was no way momma bird could have gotten those babies back into the nest without our help.  When my girls were babies I often felt overwhelmed.  It was hard for me to ask for help when I needed it.  Several years ago, I remember praying for God to help me.  My babysitter was sick and I had piano students coming to the house later that day. I didn’t know how it was going to work out- but I had peace in heart. My first student of the day happily babysat for me that afternoon. This was one of the first times I realized that God places special people in our paths to help us. I wouldn’t be half the momma I am without all the wonderful friends and family He has placed in my life!  It takes a village- and just like momma bird- we all need a little help sometimes!

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

Lord, thank You for the sweet reminder to call on You, my Helper, for all things- no matter how big or small.  Thank you for Your faithfulness, and for allowing me to catch a glimpse of  Your magnificent creation!  You are, indeed, a Wonderful Maker!

I think I think too much…

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 fleeting thoughts- like clouds

changing moment by moment

as the trees stand tall
 

 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8

There are times when I think way too hard about things.  My husband gave me some good advice the other day-

“Don’t think about it- just do it!”

As soon as he said this, I began to think- that is so much easier said than done!  And then I quickly realized that I was, again, thinking about it and not doing it!

If I only took the same amount of time I lamented over a chore, or over doing something that was necessary but doesn’t necessarily make me happy- it would already be done! And all those dishes I loathe washing?   If I just got off my duff and did them, it would take a fraction of the time.  The fact of the matter is that my mind wants to rationalize why I should wait to do something… or why I shouldn’t even bother at all.

For instance- I have probably written twice as many blog posts that I have not hit the “publish” button on… why, you ask?  That’s a good question. Because I think about it instead of doing it.  And then I doubt myself.  And then I think- who cares what I’m thinking about?  I can talk myself out of doing absolutely anything!

But those are the very times I need to commit these thoughts to the One whose thoughts are higher than mine. The thing I fear the most is not being obedient to God because I am thinking too much and not praying enough.  I want to be obedient in the big and the small things. The more time I spend with Him, the more clearly I see what He is leading me to do each moment.

So I don’t need to think about it- I need to pray about it…

and then trust and obey!

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:9

Lord, I am so grateful for Your grace, and that Your thoughts are so much greater than mine could ever be!  Help me to commit my every thought- every concern, worry, fear- my every need to You in prayer.  You care about every detail of my life- even my fleeting thoughts… may I leave them all in Your hands today.  

Seeking Him

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a moving tapestry of clouds

floating through the sky

if I don’t take the time to look

they’ll quickly pass me by

I was running late on this particular morning.  I stopped into the grocery store to pick up a few things and then quickly dashed to my car. All of a sudden I looked up- and the sky took my breath away. The clouds were swirling and moving so quickly- just like I had been doing moments before.  I was fascinated by the speed and beauty of the clouds that day. Like a kaleidoscope- the lighting and colors were changing continuously. How did I go all this morning without seeing this spectacular sight?

I had wasted so much energy on rushing around when all I really needed to do was look up and spend a few moments with Him… to ask for His help-to calm me, guide me, and help to make the best use of my time.  God knows exactly what we need and how to get our attention- if only we are looking for Him.

I took out my phone to take this photo, and thanked Him for slowing me down again…a few precious moments spent with Him makes all the difference.

Lord, help me to not only see you- but to intentionally seek You today. 

Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Psalm 119:18

Calm after the storm

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When the Lord hears the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them from all their troubles.  Psalm 34:17

I have been in a battle all day.  It may sound a little crazy to anyone who does not deal with some sort of addiction, but I am a “foodie”.  That’s just a cute way of saying I’m addicted to food.  My daughter’s birthday was this past Saturday… which means we had all sorts of snacks…ice cream… cake… and it has been calling me.  I love birthday cake.  I am ashamed at how much I love it and also to say that at times, thoughts of it consume me.

Due to the snow, the girls were home from school today. I woke up and I kid you not- I already had that stupid cake on my mind. I swore I would not have any today- not even a sliver.  As soon as I made this grande pronouncement, it overtook my mind in a super-human way.

It was about 9am and I see my daughter holding in her hand a large slice of cake.  And that was all it took… I began thinking about it again.  I am already a failure.  

If I eat it, then I have given into the temptation.  If I don’t eat it- well, I’m still a failure because I have denied myself all day and it has still consumed my thoughts.  

Deliver me

I have dealt with this since childhood.  I was always overweight.  I wanted children- and I was desperate for them to not have the struggles with food and self-esteem that I had.  By God’s grace and lots of hard work, I lost 100 lbs the summer before I had my first daughter.  It was the best thing I ever did for myself- and for the family.  Although I am not nearly as small as I was, I am healthy.  I make good choices most of the time, and I work out at least 5 times a week.

And I won’t lie- I hate it. I got on the treadmill one day last week and I cried.  I was tired and didn’t feel like working out.  I was mad.  Mad that I have to work so hard at being a normal size.  Not even thin.  Just average.  And even though I continue to make the right choices, it has not gotten any easier over these past 12 years.  It is still a daily battle.  As I cried, I began to think about heaven and what it would feel like to be completely free from the feelings of inadequacies, lack of self-worth, and unhealthy relationship with food.  That’s what kept me running that day- knowing eventually I will cross the finish line and He will be there waiting for me.

But I know He uses these things for His good… because it keeps me coming back to Him. It is when I am in my weakest moments that I feel closest to Him.  Even though He does not take the struggle away from me- He is with me, and His presence is sweeter by the day.

Deliver Me

I shared my battle with my husband today.  His reply was “Well, go get me a piece of cake!”  I sighed… and I got us both a piece.  Just like that- the battle for the day was finished.  I did not let it consume my thoughts the rest of the day.  I had a piece, and did not let it consume me.

He has delivered me.  He is delivering me… day by day and moment by moment.  Every day I cry out to Him and not allow food to consume me, He has won.  Today, after the storm came the calm.  The evening sunset lit up the sky, and my soul found peace and rest in Him tonight.   I rest knowing that I don’t have to have the strength- He will do it for me if I will only surrender and give it to Him- moment by moment.

Lord, deliver me.  Help me to not be consumed with thoughts about what I am eating.  Help me to not think of food as a punishment, nor a reward.  Help me to live for you, to eat to live, and not live to eat! May I continue to draw ever closer to you through my daily struggles.  I thank You for Your infinite love and grace.  

The Cloud Lifts

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clouds gently disperse

exposing the brilliant sun’s

extravagant light

I had a cloud hanging over me this week.  I got up one morning and didn’t feel like doing anything.  Tired, and lacking energy, I felt like staying in bed all day.  My husband made up a wonderful word to describe my “funk”-  moopy… a lovely combination of mopey and moody…If I had let my thoughts stay there, it most definitely would have been a less than stellar day.   But I got up, went through the normal morning routine, and prayed.  I prayed a lot.  Honestly, I didn’t really even feel like doing that, either.

Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out- Romans 12:2 

Even though a cloud was hanging over me, I knew His light was shining bright behind it.  I have to remember to hold tight to Him and not be lead by my emotions.

Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it- Romans 12:2

What does He want from me?  Obedience.

To keep pressing on.

To trust Him completely- even when I don’t see the light.

To take everything I routinely do and offer it to Him as an act of worship.

And you know what happened?  I got more done that day than I had in a long time!  And before I knew it, the cloud went away and He was shining brighter than ever.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  
Romans 12:1-2  The Message

Lord, I am grateful for an extra dose of Your grace and the strength on those days when I am not “feeling” it.  Help me to focus on You- in spite of my circumstances, and to praise You at all times.  May my eyes look up to You, and may everything I do bring You glory!

View from Above

The morning sun rises high in the sky

It’s radiant light illuminates

the snow drenched trees

How I long to float on a cloud 

and see His view from above

When I was a school girl, I remember standing in our little corridor kitchen looking up at my mom.  She seemed so tall!  I wondered what it would be like to see the world from her eye-view.  I remember asking her one day if she ever felt like she was going to fall from being tall.  As a child, I couldn’t wait to be big enough to see the countertops in the kitchen, to reach into the cabinets with my own hands and to be as big as my mom!

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”- Isaiah 55

 I couldn’t wait to grow up, because it meant you could do what you wanted to do- and that you knew everything!  The funny thing is the more I know, the more I know I’ll never know it all…I still feel like that little girl- except now I am looking up to my Heavenly Father- helpless at times, and desperately wanting to know more of Him… and to see things from His view!

Lord, I long to know You more and to see others as You see them.  May my thoughts and my ways be completely surrendered to Yours today.