the missed list

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I miss seeing the random smiles 

of strangers 

striking up conversations of 

commonalities and enjoying a 

moment of connection 

I miss the warm embrace of 

a friendly hug- the one that makes me 

instantly feel like you’re a part of

my  family 

I miss the naiveté of going about 

our daily lives without

thinking that we may infect someone 

by simply breathing 

I miss coffee shops

thrift stores

restaurants

lunch dates with friends 

having the house to myself 

but most of all- 

I miss worshipping together on Sundays

and being with my church family-

the fellowship, greeting one another, 

the buzz of joyful energy and

conversations in the cafe

singing, praying, 

and praising the Lord 

in one accord 

…but JOY comes in the morning- Psalm 30:5 

when you feel like hiding

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sometimes I want to stay inside 

and hide behind closed doors 

pull the covers up over my head 

and not deal with the world anymore 

IMG_1018on certain days,  I cannot think 

and words have no rhyme or reason

I can’t seem to remember anything 

and no- I’m not even teasing!! 

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but it’s when we’re  feeling most useless 

that His light comes shining through

when we share the moments of  brokenness 

is  when we hear “me, too!”

When I am a little grumpy, I joke that I am “not fit for human consumption”.  There are some days when I just don’t feel like myself.  I can’t put a finger on why, and no matter what I do-  sometimes I can’t shake that “off” feeling.

I was around a bunch of people this past week, and you know how others will ask you how you are doing?  Sometimes  we’ll say something generic-  like “I’m doing good!”… when we’re really not?  I had a few days like that this past week. Usually when I am feeling this way, I do everything I can to stay away from people.  I don’t even like to be around myself when I feel this way.  So why would anyone else want to be around me?!

But every time we are with others is another opportunity for Him to work through us and to use others to speak to us.

I opened up and told someone that I was having an “off” day, and I found instant connection.  They, too, were experiencing something similar. It helps when we can be transparent about our struggles, no matter how big or small they may be- and to know that there is nothing we have gone through that someone else has not experienced!

Sometimes we have to just keep running the race.  Even when we don’t feel up to the task.  When we feel less than qualified, it’s an even greater opportunity to lean on the Lord and draw upon His grace and His strength to do what we have to do.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.  Psalm 147

He doesn’t delight in our strength, but in our desire to fully rely on Him!

Here’s a video that was shared around Facebook recently… watch it and be encouraged that we have a Savior who knows our struggles and we are not alone in our journey!

Love is moving

The hem of His robe is where our healing lies
The wounds in His hands are where our life resides
Love is moving, moving among us

The beat of His heart our steady rhythm
A soul of a King and a Kingdom
Love is moving, moving among us
Love moves
Love is moving, moving among us

He illuminates with a holy fire
And it burns with the flame of God’s desire
Love is moving, moving among us

The power of God is in His presence
And the mercy of Heaven in His movement
Love is moving, moving among us

So we reach, we reach our hands to Him
Just to touch, to touch the Healer’s hand
We fall, we fall in worship
Our God is with us

Love is moving, moving among us

by Audrey Assad and Christy Nockels 

I heard this beautiful song for the first time a couple of weeks ago. For a while now, God has been stirring within me a desire to do something!  I have been praying about what God wants me to do, and so I’ve begun going once a week to help with a local non-profit group to serve and do whatever they need.

Sometimes we want God to use us to do “big things”… but I am finding the greatest joy in doing the smallest of tasks.  I have been so blessed by making phone calls, sorting through donations, delivering stuff to those who are less fortunate, praying for people, and just making myself available.  

When we love God, His love transforms us.  His love moves us to serve, to love others, to give of ourselves, and to worship!

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:10

God, help me to be obedient to Your nudge- and to do whatever You ask of me- no matter how big or small it might seem.  Help me to see others through Your eyes, help me to shine in the darkness, and to do all things with a thankful heart- and for Your glory!

I thought I was the only one…

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We all need friends.

Friends who know the real  “you”- the good, bad, and the ugly.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just had to get out of the house.  Away from the dishes, piles of laundry, the never ending to-do list…and the raging thoughts that run rampant through my head… I had so many things I needed to get done, I couldn’t remember half of them, and I couldn’t get myself motivate to do anything.

I grabbed my car keys and bid farewell to my dog, and all the while I didn’t have a clue where I was going to go.

I prayed- in that sort of groaning, exasperated sighing kind of way.  As I drove down the street, He brought a  friend to mind- one I hadn’t talked to in months.

I grabbed my cell phone and was preparing to leave her a long, rambling message like we often do for one another.  And then a miracle happened- I heard her voice.  “Ahh… it’s Julia” she exclaimed in her most dramatic Spanish accent.

My mood was already better, and I hadn’t even said a single word.

And we talked.  About life, marriage, the pursuit of happiness, mamma guilt, saggy old-lady skin, how we’re getting older by the day and sometimes don’t know how to deal with it… and how even though it might seem like we have it “all together”- we still feel like little kids who are holding onto dreams. It was comforting to know that my friend knew just what I was feeling.

She said something to me on the phone that day that resonated with me-

we need to be invisible.

our SELF wants to be acknowledged in worldly ways.

but we must become invisible so He can shine through us.

He must become greater, I must become less- John 3:30

There is something special about picking up the phone and having the person on the other end know exactly what you are thinking and feeling before you even utter a word.

My friend said just what I needed to hear- once again showing me the beautiful way He works through others to speak truth into our lives.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17

Alone in a crowd

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in a crowded room,

the only thing that mattered

was catching her eye

I felt so alone yesterday. 

It was the morning of my daughter’s end of the year awards assembly.  She told me to be there 15 minutes early- because she knows I have a tendency to be a tad behind schedule.  She’s a little “fashionista”, so I carefully chose one of her favorite dresses of mine to wear- just for her.  

I left the house 15 minutes earlier than I normally would have, so that I would get there early.  I got one of the last parking spots in front of the school and I hustled up to the front door.  As I approached the foyer, I noticed that there were clusters of people standing, waiting to get into the auditorium.  They were not yet ready to let us find a seat. 

I stood in the foyer and smiled as I watched all the other moms and dads.  Many of them had their own parents with them, and others were chatting with friends. They all seemed to be connected to one another.  As each new person entered the foyer, I could hear others call out to them- smiling and greeting their long lost friends.  

I didn’t see a single person I knew.  Not one!

My husband and I moved to a small community almost 11 years ago, and I consider myself to be a friendly person- but for some reason I have never felt like I “fit in”.  Many times in my life I have felt like an outsider, and today was one of them. 

In that moment, I longed to be in a place that was familiar- somewhere I had grown up all my life…where everyone knows everyone, a place where I feel “connected”… you know, like that “Cheers” theme song–  “Where everybody knows your name… And they’re always glad you came.”  And yes, I am singing this song now!

I longed to have a familiar face to sit with.  I thought about how great it would feel to have my mom with me, joking and being silly- cheering on our girl…or to have my sister beside me.  Or a childhood friend that I could identify with.  We would be cracking all sorts of childish jokes, like we were kids again.  

And then the time came to find a seat. I happened to see my neighbor, and I sat in her row.  

I scanned the crowd of children, hoping to see my Soph- and I spotted her in a matter of seconds.  I think us moms have a built-in GPS system for finding our off spring in a crowded room!   

And the look she gave me was priceless.  No longer did I feel alone.  She flashed her mega-watt smile and waved.  I caught her eye about a hundred times in the next 5 minutes and we made silly faces at each other. Her moment finally came to march across that stage, and I was so proud of her for making honor roll all year! The smile Soph flashed me was proof of how proud she was that I was there for her.  

As I sat there watching all those children and all those families, God reminded me- be content.  

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

Maybe He has us here, sowing roots, so my girls and their children will have that very thing I have always longed for- a sense of community… and I am realizing He is still working on me to be content with everything I have and with everything I have not.

And once again, He reminds me how MUCH I have to be thankful for!  

Perfect Church

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I longed to find the perfect church,

but flaws were all I found

looking for the perfect fit

I searched for Holy ground

nothing more than walls and doors

each church was much the same

until the day I heard His voice-

 I heard Him call my name

and praise the Lord, I knew right then

I’d never be the same

The heart is where the home is

And Jesus lives in mine

I know his light is with me

And I’m gonna let it shine

His Holy Spirit, His perfect love,  

 lives and dwells in me

And in Jesus Christ, we all become

one big “church” family!

 After years of driving by this lovely little church, I got my youngest daughter to take a drive-by photo of it.  Every time I pass by it, I am reminded of the little school house “church” in Little House on the Prairie. As a child, I longed for a little school house church to go to every Sunday.  From a very early age, this is exactly what I thought a perfect church should look like.  I longed to find a church family, but after years of searching, I had given up.

“Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,

we will come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves!”

This is one of the many hymns I remember being sung on Little House, in that little church.  A place where people gathered and praised God for their harvests, for their simple lives. People came together time and again to help each other and to meet each other’s needs.  After all the churches I had visited over the years, I doubted I’d ever find my church “home”.  Then one day I realized –

I wasn’t searching for a place– I was searching for Him.

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

I was never going to find Him in a place…He was right there with me- in my heart all along.  

And once I found Him, that picture of a perfect church vanished.  No longer was it a place to meet my needs- it was a place to give, to love, and to serve.  There is no perfect church- but there is a perfect God who perfectly places us where He wants us to bloom.  I am forever grateful for all He has done for me- and I am humbled and honored that I “get to” serve Him and lead our church in worship each week.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony-  Colossians 3:14