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Only Jesus

It has been bitterly cold lately.

How cold is it?

So cold, that my semi-damp hair freezes in chunks when I walk the dogs!

So cold, that I think I have gotten a little bitter myself.

I really despise that about me. I see how easy it is for me come up with excuses for why I am in a bad mood. After it snowed a couple of weeks ago, I slipped and fell down the front porch stairs while holding a dog leash in each hand. My tailbone hit every step on the way down and then smacked against the icy asphalt. I laid there on the ice and cried because the pain was so bad. And there was no one home to help. Thankfully I didn’t break anything, but it left me in a lot of physical discomfort.

Sitting, standing, walking…getting in and out of the car… all the normal daily things I did brought me constant discomfort. It took a solid two weeks for me to be able to walk around without being in constant pain. I was GRATEFUL to wake up yesterday and hop right out of bed like my usual self!

But this morning, I see how easy it has been for me to allow myself to wallow in my own misery, and to make excuses for it. How quick I have been to complain and become frustrated with little things. How I have been snappy with my family and have thought of every excuse to justify my attitude.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5

What would Jesus say about my bad mood? I think He would tell me no one owes me anything for falling down those steps that day. I think He would tell me to be grateful that I wasn’t more severely injured. I think He would tell me to lean into Him more and not expect anything from other people. I think He would tell me how incredibly blessed I am.

Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past- Isaiah 43:18

He would tell me to stop focusing on my circumstances, and start focusing on Him.

The moment I begin worship and focus on Jesus- I am free from my selfish ways.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:13-14

Keep your eyes on the prize!

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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 

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seek me and find me

fullsizeoutput_1d19This is my “life-verse”.

When I was in my early 30’s, I experienced something life-changing.  I had been going to church steadily for a couple of years, and was doing my best to be a “good” person.

But I found myself in a place of complete discontentment.  Everything looked perfect from the outside, but inside, I felt like the dreams I had were slipping away… I wanted to move back to my hometown… I made all sorts of plans about my career and what I wanted to do, and none of those plans involved remaining in Charlottesville.

With every passing day, I grew more frustrated.

Finally, when I realized that the plans I had made weren’t going to come to fruition, I waved my white flag.

One evening I begged God to change my heart. I was sick and tired of being miserable, and oddly enough,  I was compelled to open the Bible and began to read.  I literally sat in my bed and flipped it open and read the first page it landed on.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:11-12 

I didn’t know who Paul was, but something in me wanted to know more. 

I said- “God, if you can make Paul content, won’t you do that for me?”  It seemed like a simple enough request.  Could you make me content right where I am?  And would you help me to let go of  my own desires?  

And from that moment on, I started reading the Word and praying daily.  Little by little, I began to see Him work in my heart and life.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

 I handed my pen over to Him- so He could write the story of my life.

And 10 short years later, I can honestly say-

His plans are far better than mine could have ever been!

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think of these things…

You know that saying-

you are what you eat?  

Well the same thing applies to our thoughts and the things we think about.  We all have good and bad days, but we really can make a conscious decision to focus on the positive things…. which brings me to a couple of my favorite scriptures-

Philippians 4:8- Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Psalm 19:14- May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

This is my prayer-

God help me to focus on those things which are good and praiseworthy, and may the things I say AND do be pleasing to You and bring You glory!

Here is a song I wrote, based on those scriptures.

 

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something to look forward to

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What do you have to look forward to?

For some people, it’s a big vacation coming up- or maybe a party.  Someone’s graduation?  A big work event?  The birth of a new baby?

I have this thing where I need something to look forward to something to be excited about!  If I don’t have that “thing”, then it feels like something is missing.

Lately I have been feeling like I don’t have anything to look forward to.  It’s not true, by ANY means!  My life is good- really good. The girls are doing great in school and they have wonderful friends. David and I are happily married, and as the days go by- I feel as if we are growing closer and closer together… which is, in itself, something to celebrate and look forward to.   I lost weight and found health- and still overjoyed at the freedom I have in this new way of eating… I have so much to be thankful for!  And yet, today I have found myself longing to look forward to something. 

And wouldn’t you know it… God showed me something.

I ran to the store to pick up a few groceries, and as I wheeled my cart towards the check out line, there was this shopping cart filled with mark downs.  I sifted through it and there were Starbucks K-cups on clearance! Woohoo!!

And then as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the magnolia tree that we planted earlier this summer is getting ready to bloom…

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The fact that this tree has not died yet is a miracle- because I can’t keep any plants alive on my own accord.  So to see it is not only alive, but thriving and getting ready to bloom makes me the happiest girl in the world today.  And there was not just one bud- but 3 white buds getting ready to blossom!

That is how I know there is a God.

He knows me better than I know myself.  He knows exactly what I need-every single day. And His timing is always perfect.

My magnolia tree is alive.

I am alive.

He is alive.

And walking with Him is always an adventure to look forward to!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in you.”  

Psalm 39:7

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born to fly

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You can’t

keep a butterfly 

down

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born to fly- 

won’t stay 

on the ground 

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flitting and floating 

you’d think it was gloating

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that her post-cocoon

freedom 

was found! 

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“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest”-  Psalm 55:6

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My girls went back to school this past week.  It spiraled me into a mini- midlife crisis, realizing that BOTH of my daughters are now in high school!   I started thinking about how few years they have left before they will one day “fly”.

That morning, I went to sit up at the cross on the hill behind our church.  It was a beautiful day, despite the extreme heat and humidity.  As soon as I got to the top of the hill, I noticed there were an unusual amount of butterflies flying around me.  One in particular was HUGE!  Bigger than my hand!  It was bright blue and reminded me of a peacock.  Every time it landed, I tried to get a picture of it- and as soon as I took a step forward, off it went again.  It stayed right near me the whole time I was at the cross, never staying in one place long enough for me to get a picture.

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The funny thing is that my girls have become like that, too!  I asked to take a picture of them on the morning before they went off for their first day of school-   “Mommmm…. PLEASE don’t “post” a picture of us anywhere!”

Gone are the days of making them pose for sweet smiley school pictures and waiting with them for the bus at our bus stop… gone are the days of controlling their every move!

They are preparing for take off, shedding layers of their childhood cocoons one day at a time.  And as the days fly by- they are needing me less and less.

It is a juxtaposition of feelings-

both bittersweet and overflowing joy.

“You may outgrow my lap, but never my heart”

– author unknown 

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but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.  

Isaiah 40:31

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no turning back

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I have always loved hymns, and in particular, learning the stories behind how they were written.  The story behind I Have Decided to Follow Jesus is one that I found particularly moving…

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a Christian hymn originating from India.

The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in north-east India, who along with his family, was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary.

Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled “Assam” after the region where the text originated.The fierce opposition is possible as various tribes in that area were formerly renowned for head-hunting.  

An American hymn editor, William Jensen Reynolds, composed an arrangement which was included in the 1959 Assembly Songbook.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus

Often when we sing these words, we think of leaving behind frivolous things- like selfishness, a life of partying, or other things like gossiping or gambling.  When I think of this missionary and the courage he had to sing these words as he watched his own family be taken from him- and then knowing that his own life would be taken, too- it takes on a whole new meaning.  Are you willing to give up everything for the sake of following Christ?  

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:33

“No Turning Back”

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

The world behind me, the cross before me

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

Though none go with me, still I will follow

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

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Hungry

If we're not hungry for Christ, we're probably too full of ourselves — via @MurrJohnson
You, Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
 You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.
Psalm 16:5-6 (CEV)

If you’re anything like me, when I start making good “diet” choices, those are the things that I begin to crave.  Like drinking water- that’s not really something I like to drink, but when I am intentional to get in my 6-8 glasses, I notice how much better I feel when I make those good choices.

It’s like that with seeking the Lord, too. When we get sidetracked with life, we can easily forget how desperately we need a steady diet of Him… but when we are intentional to read the Word, to pray, and to seek His presence- He faithfully fills our cup.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9

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The Secret

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I remember years ago, when I first started taking piano lessons, how frustrated I would get.  I had been picking out chords and melodies by ear for several years before I actually began taking lessons.  It was so hard for me to train myself to follow all the new “rules” my piano teacher gave me.  The hardest one was keeping my eyes focused on the sheet music-

and not my hands!

When I taught myself how to play by ear,  I focused on watching my fingers. I didn’t care which finger did what- all that mattered was whether I hit the correct notes.  My piano teacher never missed an opportunity to correct me when I looked down.

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Eyes on the music,  he used to tell me.  But it’s too hard! I would whine in frustration each  and every time I was caught looking down.

And then little by little, slowly but surely- I began to have confidence in my playing. As I continued with lessons, I learned how to focus on making music– not just playing correct notes.

I have noticed that my walk with the Lord is a little bit like taking piano lessons.

Keep your eyes on Me.  Stop looking to the right and left. Stop looking behind you.  

Stop trying to follow rules and just follow Me.  

I am ashamed to admit how often I still get distracted, or discouraged.  Every so often, I catch myself falling into bad habits… especially during the summertime when the girls are home from school and there seems to be a huge shift in our routine.

I told my husband I had been feeling particularly “down” this past week.  I mentioned to him just this morning that my life verse is Philippians 4:12-  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Well, have you learned that secret?” my husband earnestly asked me today.

Absolutely.  With 100% certainty I know the secret.

That verse has been my prayer for years now- to be like the apostle Paul.  To be perfectly content, no matter WHAT is going on around me.

The secret?  It’s not a secret– it’s a “SEEK”-ret-

to be constantly SEEKING Him!

to be constant in my pursuit of  His will…His way…His desire…His heart…

and His presence.

fullsizeoutput_5Let 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.
 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.  

Proverbs 4:25-27

 

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Starbucks ain’t got nothin’ on me

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Ok, I admit that I have been rolling through that Starbucks drive-thru a little too frequently.  They just so happen to offer something fabulous for those of us who follow the Trim Healthy Mama approach to food- bacon and gouda sous vide egg bites!  They are so so good that I literally crave them.  And you can’t go to SB without getting coffee, too…. so I had to act fast and do something to protect my financial well being!  I decided to find a copy-cat recipe for these miraculous egg concoctions… and this one is a WINNER!!!!

All you need to make these little bites of heaven are an

-instant pot (have I told you how much I love love love my instant pot!?!)

-a silicone insert that I bought on amazon pretty cheap

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*I did make a couple of changes to the above recipe- I didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes, so I left them out; and I also added shredded gouda cheese instead of cheddar cheese… and BACON!!  I cooked a few slices of bacon and crumbled up 1/4 a slice and put in the bottom of the silicone mold before I poured the egg mixture on top of it… it was perfection!

These egg bites are magical.  They are silky smooth, jiggly, and almost have a cheesecake- like texture.  And the most amazing part is that you can keep them in the fridge for several days, reheat them, and they are JUST AS GOOD as they are the moment you take them out of the instant pot!  These are so good that my whole family battles over who gets the last one!

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my very first batch… a SUCCESS!! 

And to finish my at-home Starbucks experience, my wonderful hubby got me a milk frother.  This thing has turned my morning cup of joe into HEAVEN!

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My favorite Starbucks drink is a breve flat-white.  This is espresso topped with steamed half and half.  It is so so good.  I made a strong cup of coffee and then poured my half and half into a tall glass.  I used the little hand frother and within seconds, the half and half began to thicken up. I poured it into my cup of coffee, added a little monk fruit, some cinnamon… and VOILA-

Starbucks ain’t got nothin’ on me!

Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing;

You hold my future-  Psalm 16:6

 

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